Concentration and composition of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in plastic pellets: implications for small-scale diagnostic and environmental monitoring

Mara Fisner, Satie Taniguchi, Alessandra P Majer, Márcia C Bícego, Alexander Turra
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2013 November 15, 76 (1-2): 349-54
Plastic pellets may serve as a carrier of toxic contaminants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Considering that beach morphodynamics and pellet distribution varied along the shore, and that contaminant sources may vary on different scales, it is expected that this variability is reflected in the concentration and composition of contaminants. This hypothesis was tested through a sampling of plastic pellets at 30 sites along the shore in Santos Bay (Brazil). The total PAH concentrations and the priority PAHs showed high variability, with no clear pattern. Their composition differed among the sampling sites; some of the compounds represent a potential risk to organisms. The sources of contamination, as indicated by the isomer ratios, were also variable among sites. The high small-scale spatial variability found here has implications for estimating the plastic pellet contamination on beaches, since a sample from a single site is unlikely to be representative of an entire beach.

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