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Long-term decreases in persistent organic pollutants in South African coastal waters detected from beached polyethylene pellets

Peter G Ryan, Hindrik Bouwman, Coleen L Moloney, Masaki Yuyama, Hideshige Takada
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2012, 64 (12): 2756-60
23067541
Polyethylene pellets provide a convenient means to monitor Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in marine systems. Pellets collected between 1984 and 2008 at three South African beaches were analysed for PCB, HCH and DDT. Concentrations of all three POPs decreased over the last two decades, although this signal was less clear for PCBs, and further monitoring is needed to assess trends in this family of compounds. DDT concentrations at two sites were higher than previous records for southern Africa, but there is no evidence of a link to the ongoing use of DDT for malaria control. HCHs concentrations were lower than in pellets from the east coast of southern Africa, suggesting that this pesticide was mainly used in the eastern part of the region. Our study demonstrates the potential for International Pellet Watch to track temporal as well as geographical patterns in the abundance of POPs in marine environments.

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