Abundance and size of microplastics in a coastal sea: Comparison among bottom sediment, beach sediment, and surface water

Nao Sagawa, Keiyu Kawaai, Hirofumi Hinata
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2018, 133: 532-542
Microplastics have adverse effects on marine life. This study examined the abundance and size of microplastics as well as their polymer types in the surface water and the bottom and beach sediments of Hiroshima Bay. The fragmentation process and sinking factors of foamed polystyrene (FPS) microplastics were also examined. Serious FPS pollution spread out not only in the beach sediments but also in the bottom sediments. The average size of FPS particles in the bottom sediments was significantly smaller than that of beached FPS particles. Field emission scanning electron microscopy images suggest that large amounts of microsized or nanosized FPS fragments are likely to be generated from the margins of beached FPS microplastics. X-ray computed tomography images show that FPS microplastics from the bottom sediments had tunnel-like structures inside the particle. Based on these images, FPS microplastics in the bottom sediments were susceptible to biofouling and soil deposition.

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