Lost but can't be neglected: Huge quantities of small microplastics hide in the South China Sea.
Sci Total Environ. 2018 Aug 15 ;633:1206-1216. Epub 2018 Mar 30. PMID: 29758873
Large quantities of microplastics with small particle sizes were found in the South China Sea (SCS). The abundances of microplastics in seawater were 0.045±0.093and 2569±1770particles/maccording to the bongo net and pumping sampling methods, respectively. Smaller-size fractions (size<0.3mm) contributed 92% of the number of microplastics to the total load. Continental slope is the largest reservoir of microplastics with an inventory of 295tons. 21 polymer types were found in the samples using the micro Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), among which alkyds (22.5%) and polycaprolactone (PCL) (20.9%) accounted for almost half of the total polymer content. Lighter plastics would not only concentrate upon the coastal area, being more likely to drift further into open seas with ocean currents. The distribution characteristics showed that it was mainly controlled by terrestrial input of the Pearl River. This study, as the first report from SCS on microplastics in water for its distribution and influence factors, provided impetus for further research on the transportation fate and the behavior of this emerging pollutant from coastal zone to the open oceans.