Measurement of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in plastic resin pellets from remote islands: toward establishment of background concentrations for International Pellet Watch

Marvin Heskett, Hideshige Takada, Rei Yamashita, Masaki Yuyama, Maki Ito, Yeo Bee Geok, Yuko Ogata, Charita Kwan, Angelika Heckhausen, Heidi Taylor, Taj Powell, Carey Morishige, Doug Young, Hugh Patterson, Bryson Robertson, Elizabeth Bailey, Jorge Mermoz
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2012, 64 (2): 445-8
Plastic resin pellets collected from remote islands in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans and the Caribbean Sea were analyzed for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichloro-diphenyltrichloroethane and its degradation products (DDTs), and hexachlorocyclohexanes (HCHs). Concentrations of PCBs (sum of 13 congeners) in the pellets were 0.1-9.9 ng/g-pellet. These were 1-3 orders of magnitude smaller than those observed in pellets from industrialized coastal shores. Concentrations of DDTs in the pellets were 0.8-4.1 ng/g-pellet. HCH concentrations were 0.6-1.7 ng/g-pellet, except for 19.3 ng/g-pellet on St. Helena, where current use of lindane is likely influence. This study provides background levels of POPs (PCBs<10 ng/g-pellet, DDTs <4 ng/g-pellet, HCHs <2 ng/g-pellet) for International Pellet Watch. Sporadic large concentrations of POPs were found in some pellet samples from remote islands and should be considered in future assessments of pollutants on plastic debris.

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