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Microplastic pollution in the Maowei Sea, a typical mariculture bay of China

Jingmin Zhu, Qiang Zhang, Yanping Li, Shudan Tan, Zhenjun Kang, Xueying Yu, Wenlu Lan, Li Cai, Jingzhen Wang, Huahong Shi
Science of the Total Environment 2018 December 13, 658: 62-68
The ingestion of microplastics by organisms presents a potential exposure route for humans via seafood consumption. Although mariculture has become an essential source of seafood worldwide, the content of microplastics in the mariculture zone has received less scrutiny than in the wild environment. The Maowei Sea is a semi-closed bay that is rich in fishery resources. The specific levels of microplastics in the Maowei Sea and its fishery products remain undetermined. In this paper, we detail the distributions and characteristics of microplastics in the aquaculture water and biota of the Maowei Sea. Microplastics were detected in the range of 1.2-10.1 particles/L in Maowei Sea surface water, with high microplastic content in estuarine oyster nursery (10.1 particles/L) and Qinzhou harbor (8.8-9.5 particles/L) sites. In water samples from the three inflowing rivers, the abundances ranged from 2.9 to 4.5 particles/L, which is comparable to that in Maowei Sea surface water. Of 66 collected fish belonging to 12 species, microplastics were observed in all of the gastrointestinal tracts (GITs) and in the gills of 40 individuals. In the GIT and gill tests, the abundances of microplastics ranged from 2.0 to 14.0 and from 0.0 to 8.5 particles/individual, respectively. The enhanced particles/individual figures in the GIT relative to the gill are particularly noteworthy. Demersal species showed significantly higher abundances of microplastics than pelagic species (p < 0.05). Microplastics were also detected in the soft tissues of all oyster samples, with abundances ranging from 3.2 to 8.6 particles/individual. The microplastic composition was dominated by rayon and polyester and tended to be white in color and fibrous in shape. Altogether, these results correspond to high levels of microplastics in the Maowei Sea. As the study region is a mariculture bay, the observed microplastics contamination in its fishery products presents a route for human exposure. CAPSULE ABSTRACT: Microplastics are widespread in the aquaculture water and biota in the Maowei Sea, a mariculture bay.


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