Microplastics as a vector for heavy metal contamination in the marine environment

Brennecke, D., Duarte, B., Paiva, Filipa, Cacador, I. and Canning-Clode, João (2016) Microplastics as a vector for heavy metal contamination in the marine environment Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 178 . pp. 189-195. DOI 10.1016/j.ecss.2015.12.003.

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The permanent presence of microplastics in the marine environment is considered a global threat to several marine animals. Heavy metals and microplastics are typically included in two different classes of pollutants but the interaction between these two stressors is poorly understood.

During 14 days of experimental manipulation, we examined the adsorption of two heavy metals, copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn), leached from an antifouling paint to virgin polystyrene (PS) beads and aged polyvinyl chloride (PVC) fragments in seawater. We demonstrated that heavy metals were released from the antifouling paint to the water and both microplastic types adsorbed the two heavy metals. This adsorption kinetics was described using partition coefficients and mathematical models. Partition coefficients between pellets and water ranged between 650 and 850 for Cu on PS and PVC, respectively. The adsorption of Cu was significantly greater in PVC fragments than in PS, probably due to higher surface area and polarity of PVC. Concentrations of Cu and Zn increased significantly on PVC and PS over the course of the experiment with the exception of Zn on PS. As a result, we show a significant interaction between these types of microplastics and heavy metals, which can have implications for marine life and the environment. These results strongly support recent findings where plastics can play a key role as vectors for heavy metal ions in the marine system. Finally, our findings highlight the importance of monitoring marine litter and heavy metals, mainly associated with antifouling paints, particularly in the framework of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Heavy metals; Microplastics; Adsorption; Antifouling substances; Polystyrene; Polyvinyl chloride
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EOE-N Experimental Ecology - Food Webs
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.ecss.2015.12.003
ISSN: 0272-7714
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2015 12:32
Last Modified: 03 May 2017 11:28
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/30652

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