The environmental pollution by plastic debris directly dispersed in or eventually reaching marine habitats is raising increasing concern not only for the vulnerability of marine species to ingestion and entanglement by macroscopic debris, but also for the potential hazards from smaller fragments down to a few micrometer size, often referred to as "microplastics". A novel procedure for the selective quantitative and qualitative determination of organic solvent soluble microplastics and microplastics degradation products (<2 mm) in shoreline sediments was adopted to evaluate their concentration and distribution over the different sectors of a Tuscany (Italy) beach. Solvent extraction followed by gravimetric determination and chemical characterization by FT-IR, Pyrolysis-GC-MS, GPC and 1H NMR analyses showed the presence of up to 30 mg microplastics in 1 kg sand, a figure corresponding to about 5.5 g of generally undetected and largely underestimated microplastics in the upper 10 cm layer of a square meter of sandy beach ! The extracted microplastic material was essentially polystyrene and polyolefin byproducts from oxidative degradation and erosion of larger fragments, with accumulation mainly above the storm berm. Chain scission and oxidation processes cause significant variations in the physical and chemical features of microplastics, promoting their adsorption onto sand particles and thus their persistence in the sediments.

The Hidden Microplastics: New Insights and Figures from the Thorough Separation and Characterization of Microplastics and of Their Degradation Byproducts in Coastal Sediments

Ceccarini, Alessio
Primo
Supervision
;
Corti, Andrea
Secondo
Writing – Original Draft Preparation
;
Modugno, Francesca
Validation
;
La Nasa, Jacopo
Investigation
;
Castelvetro, Valter
Ultimo
Writing – Review & Editing
2018-01-01

Abstract

The environmental pollution by plastic debris directly dispersed in or eventually reaching marine habitats is raising increasing concern not only for the vulnerability of marine species to ingestion and entanglement by macroscopic debris, but also for the potential hazards from smaller fragments down to a few micrometer size, often referred to as "microplastics". A novel procedure for the selective quantitative and qualitative determination of organic solvent soluble microplastics and microplastics degradation products (<2 mm) in shoreline sediments was adopted to evaluate their concentration and distribution over the different sectors of a Tuscany (Italy) beach. Solvent extraction followed by gravimetric determination and chemical characterization by FT-IR, Pyrolysis-GC-MS, GPC and 1H NMR analyses showed the presence of up to 30 mg microplastics in 1 kg sand, a figure corresponding to about 5.5 g of generally undetected and largely underestimated microplastics in the upper 10 cm layer of a square meter of sandy beach ! The extracted microplastic material was essentially polystyrene and polyolefin byproducts from oxidative degradation and erosion of larger fragments, with accumulation mainly above the storm berm. Chain scission and oxidation processes cause significant variations in the physical and chemical features of microplastics, promoting their adsorption onto sand particles and thus their persistence in the sediments.
2018
Ceccarini, Alessio; Corti, Andrea; Erba, Francesca; Modugno, Francesca; La Nasa, Jacopo; Bianchi, Sabrina; Castelvetro, Valter
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/922366
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