Microplastics in a wind farm area: A case study at the Rudong Offshore Wind Farm, Yellow Sea, China

Teng Wang, Xinqing Zou, Baojie Li, Yulong Yao, Jiasheng Li, Hejiu Hui, Wenwen Yu, Chenglong Wang
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2018, 128: 466-474
Despite the rapid construction of offshore wind farms, the available information regarding the risks of this type of development in terms of emerging pollutants, particularly microplastics, is scarce. In this study, we quantified the level of microplastic pollution at an offshore wind farm in the Yellow Sea, China, in 2016. The abundance of microplastics was 0.330 ± 0.278 items/m3 in the surface water and 2.58 ± 1.14 items/g (dry) in the sediment. To the best of our knowledge, the level of microplastic pollution in our study area was slightly higher than that in coastal areas around the world. The microplastics detected in the surface waters and sediments were mainly fibrous (75.3% and 68.7%, respectively) and consisted of some granules and films. The microplastics in the samples might originate from garments or ropes via wastewater discharge. The abundance of plastic in the water and sediment samples collected from the wind farm area was lower than that in the samples collected from outside the wind farm area. The anthropogenic hydrodynamic effect was the main factor affecting the local distribution of microplastics. The presence of a wind farm could increase the bed shear stress during ebb tide, disturbing the bed sediment, facilitating its initiation and transport, and ultimately increasing the ease of washing away the microplastics adhered to the sediment. This study will serve as a reference for further studies of the distribution and migration of microplastics in coastal zones subjected to similar marine utilization.

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