The Complex Interaction between Marine Debris and Toxic Chemicals in the Ocean

Environmental Science & Technology (Impact Factor: 5.33). 10/2012; 46(22). DOI: 10.1021/es3027105
Source: PubMed


Marine debris, especially plastic debris, is widely recognized as global environmental problem. There has been substantial research on the impacts of plastic marine debris, such as entanglement and ingestion. These impacts are largely due to the physical presence of plastic debris. In recent years there has been an increasing focus on the impacts of toxic chemicals as they relate to plastic debris. Some plastic debris acts as a source of toxic chemicals: substances that were added to the plastic during manufacturing leach from plastic debris. Plastic debris also acts as a sink for toxic chemicals. Plastic sorbs persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic substances (PBTs), such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins, from the water or sediment. These PBTs may desorb when the plastic is ingested by any of a variety of marine species. This broad look at the current research suggests that while there is significant uncertainty and complexity in the kinetics and thermodynamics of the interaction, plastic debris appears to act as a vector transferring PBTs from the water to the food web, increasing risk throughout the marine food web, including humans. Because of the extremely long lifetime of plastic and PBTs in the ocean, prevention strategies are vital to minimizing these risks.

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    • "Most obviously, it causes entanglement and suffocation and interferes with food uptake and digestion of 580 marine species (Kühn et al. 2015). Plastics are long lasting and non-biodegradable (Andrady 2015) and carry added and/or adsorbed pollutants (Engler 2012). If ingested, these may accumulate through the food web (Kühn et al. 2015). "
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    ABSTRACT: Although recent reports indicate that anthropogenic waste has made it to the remotest parts of our oceans, there is still only limited information about its spread, especially in polar seas. Here, we present litter densities recorded during ship- and helicopter-based observer surveys in the Barents Sea and Fram Strait (Arctic). Thirty-one items were recorded in total, 23 from helicopter and eight from research vessel transects. Litter quantities ranged between 0 and 0.216 items km−1 with a mean of 0.001 (±SEM 0.005) items km−1. All of the floating objects observed were plastic items. Litter densities were slightly higher in the Fram Strait (0.006 items km−1) compared with the Barents Sea (0.004 items km−1). More litter was recorded during helicopter-based surveys than during ship-based surveys (0.006 and 0.004 items km−1, respectively). When comparing with the few available data with the same unit (items km−1 transect), the densities found herein are slightly higher than those from Antarctica but substantially lower than those from temperate waters. However, since anthropogenic activities in the Fram Strait are expanding because of sea ice shrinkage, and since currents from the North Atlantic carry a continuous supply of litter to the north, this problem is likely to worsen in years to come unless serious mitigating actions are taken to reduce the amounts of litter entering the oceans.
    Polar Biology 10/2015; DOI:10.1007/s00300-015-1795-8 · 1.59 Impact Factor
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    • "Plastics were reported to account for 60–80 % of the total debris in the marine environment (Derraik 2002), and their impact on marine life through entanglement and ingestion has been widely reported (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity 2012). Furthermore, plastics contain harmful chemicals added during the manufacturing process, adsorb toxic chemicals from the environment (Mato et al. 2001; Engler 2012), and the ingestion of microplastics by wildlife may introduce toxins into food chains, leading to bioaccumulation (Teuten et al. 2009). These adverse impacts of plastics are ubiquitous and persistent, and it has been proposed that plastics should be classified as hazardous (Rochman et al. 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: The characteristics of the distribution of plastic marine debris were determined on 12 beaches in South Korea in 2013 and 2014. The abundances of large micro- (1-5 mm), meso- (5-25 mm), and macroplastics (>25 mm) were 880.4, 37.7, and 1.0 particles/m(2), respectively. Styrofoam was the most abundant debris type for large microplastics and mesoplastics (99.1 and 90.9 %, respectively). Fiber (including fabric) was the most abundant of the macroplastics (54.7 %). There were no statistical differences in the mean numbers and weights of plastic debris among three beach groups from west, south, and east coasts. No significant differences were detected between the abundances of beached plastics in high strandline and backshore for all three size groups. Spearman's rank correlation was used to determine the relationships between the three debris size classes. The abundance of large microplastics was strongly correlated with that of mesoplastics for most material types, which suggests that the contamination level of large microplastics can be estimated from that of mesoplastics. As surveying of smaller particles is more labor intensive, the surveying of mesoplastics with a 5-mm sieve is an efficient and useful way to determine "hot-spots" on beaches contaminated with large microplastics.
    Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 08/2015; DOI:10.1007/s00244-015-0208-x · 1.90 Impact Factor
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    • "The accumulation of marine debris is one of the main emerging environmental issues of this century (Moore 2008; United Nations Environment Programme 2011).Many earlier studies have noted that plastic debris has been the major component of the marine debris (e.g., Andrady 2011; Barnes et al. 2009; Engler 2012; Ivar do Sul and Costa 2014; Law et al. 2014; Storrier et al. 2007). Plastics are synthesized in large quantity from petroleum products such as crude oil, coal, and natural gas as well as other biomass and are widely used because of their lightweight nature, durability, potential for diverse applications, and low price. "
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    ABSTRACT: The accumulation of marine plastic debris is one of the main emerging environmental issues of the twenty first century. Numerous studies in recent decades have reported the level of plastic particles on the beaches and in oceans worldwide. However, it is still unclear how much plastic debris remains in the marine environment because the sampling methods for identifying and quantifying plastics from the environment have not been standardized; moreover, the methods are not guaranteed to find all of the plastics that do remain. The level of identified marine plastic debris may explain only the small portion of remaining plastics. To perform a quantitative estimation of remaining plastics, a mass balance analysis was performed for high- and low-density PE within the borders of South Korea during 1995-2012. Disposal methods such as incineration, land disposal, and recycling accounted for only approximately 40 % of PE use, whereas 60 % remained unaccounted for. The total unaccounted mass of high- and low-density PE to the marine environment during the evaluation period was 28 million tons. The corresponding contribution to marine plastic debris would be approximately 25,000 tons and 70 g km(-2) of the world oceans assuming that the fraction entering the marine environment is 0.001 and that the degradation half-life is 50 years in seawater. Because the observed concentrations of plastics worldwide were much lower than the range expected by extrapolation from this mass balance study, it is considered that there probably is still a huge mass of unidentified plastic debris. Further research is therefore needed to fill this gap between the mass balance approximation and the identified marine plastics including a better estimation of the mass flux to the marine environment.
    Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 07/2015; 69(3). DOI:10.1007/s00244-015-0192-1 · 1.90 Impact Factor
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