Size distribution of stranded small plastic debris on the coast of Guangdong, South China

Lincoln Fok, Pui Kwan Cheung, Guangda Tang, Wai Chin Li
Environmental Pollution 2017, 220 (Pt A): 407-412
Beach environments are known to be conducive to fragmentation of plastic debris, and highly fragmented plastic particles can interact with smaller organisms. Even through stranded plastic debris may not interact directly with marine organisms, backwash processes may transport this debris back to coastal waters, where it may affect a wide range of marine life at different trophic levels. This study analysed the size distribution of stranded plastic debris (<10 mm) collected from eight coastal beaches in Guangdong Province, China. Polystyrene (PS) foams and fragments smaller than 7 mm were increasingly abundant in the smaller size classes, whereas resin pellets remained in their production sizes (∼3 mm). Microplastics (<5 mm) accounted for over 98% of the total plastic debris by abundance and 71% by weight, indicating that the plastic debris on these coastal beaches was highly fragmented and the majority of the plastic masses belonged to the microplastic size range. The observed size distributions of PS foams and fragments are believed to result from continued fragmentation. Previous studies found that the residence time of beached debris was less than one year on average, and no sign of plastic accumulation with depth in beach sediment was observed. Therefore, coastal beaches may represent a reservoir of highly fragmented and degraded microplastics that may be mobilised and returned to the sea during storm events. Further research on the dynamics and longevity of microplastics on beaches will help reveal the mass balance of microplastics on the shoreline and determine whether shorelines are sinks or sources of microplastics.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"