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Ubiquity of microplastics in coastal seafloor sediments
Ling, S.D.; Sinclair, M.; Levi, C.J.; Reeves, S.E.; Edgar, G.J. (2017). Ubiquity of microplastics in coastal seafloor sediments. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 121(1-2): 104-110. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.05.038
In: Marine Pollution Bulletin. Macmillan: London. ISSN 0025-326X, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine
Author keywords
    Marine plastic Pollution Heavy metals Sewage Estuary Reef

Authors  Top 
  • Ling, S.D.
  • Sinclair, M.
  • Levi, C.J.
  • Reeves, S.E.
  • Edgar, G.J.

Abstract
    Microplastic pollutants occur in marine environments globally, however estimates of seafloor concentrations are rare. Here we apply a novel method to quantify size-graded (0.038–4.0 mm diam.) concentrations of plastics in marine sediments from 42 coastal and estuarine sites spanning pollution gradients across south-eastern Australia. Acid digestion/density separation revealed 9552 individual microplastics from 2.84 l of sediment across all samples; equating to a regional average of 3.4 microplastics·ml− 1 sediment. Microplastics occurred as filaments (84% of total) and particle forms (16% of total). Positive correlations between microplastic filaments and wave exposure, and microplastic particles with finer sediments, indicate hydrological/sediment-matrix properties are important for deposition/retention. Contrary to expectations, positive relationships were not evident between microplastics and other pollutants (heavy metals/sewage), nor were negative relationships with neighbouring reef biota detected. Rather, microplastics were ubiquitous across sampling sites. Positive associations with some faunal-elements (i.e. invertebrate species richness) nevertheless suggest high potential for microplastic ingestion.

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