Microplastic pollution in sediments from the Bohai Sea and the Yellow Sea, China

Jianmin Zhao, Wen Ran, Jia Teng, Yongliang Liu, Hui Liu, Xiaonan Yin, Ruiwen Cao, Qing Wang
Science of the Total Environment 2018 November 1, 640-641: 637-645
Microplastics are one of the most significant pollutants in the marine environment and accumulate in sediments all over the world. To assess the pollution level in the marine environment in China, the distribution and abundance of microplastics in sediments from the Bohai Sea and the Yellow Sea were investigated in this study. The sediment samples were collected from 72 different sites in the Bohai Sea and the Yellow Sea. Microplastics were separated from sediment through density flotation and categorized according to shape and size under a microscope. Additionally, polymer types were identified using Fourier-Transform Infrared Micro-spectroscopy (μ-FT-IR). Our study demonstrated that microplastics were consistently found in all samples, which emphasized their extensive distribution throughout the Bohai Sea and the Yellow Sea. The average microplastic abundance was 171.8, 123.6 and 72.0 items per kg of dry weight sediment for the Bohai Sea, Northern Yellow Sea and Southern Yellow Sea, respectively. Among the sampled microplastics, fiber (93.88%) and small microplastics (<1000 μm) (71.06%) were the most frequent types. Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy (μ-FT-IR) analysis determined that the main types of microplastics were rayon (RY), polyethylene (PE) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Our results highlighted the widespread distribution of microplastics in sediments from the Bohai Sea and the Yellow Sea and provided useful information for evaluating the environmental risks of microplastics in China.

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