Detection of plastic, cellulosic micro-fragments and microfibers in Laternula elliptica from King George Island (Maritime Antarctica)

It is generally acknowledged that microplastic pollutants are prevalent in ocean waters and sediments across a range of tropical, temperate, subpolar, and polar regions. The waters surrounding King George Island are significantly impacted by human activities, particularly those related to scientific stations, fishing, and tourism. Organisms, such as Laternula elliptica, can be used as environmental monitors due to the likelihood that they will bioaccumulate pollutants. The goal of this study was to quantify and identify plastic and cellulosic micro-fragments and microfibers present in the soft body of clams (n = 21), collected from Fildes Bay near sewage and wastewater discharges. Plastic and cellulose microfragments and microfibers were counted, and their compositions were determined using FT-IR. All 21 individuals sampled contained fragments and fibers, with a total of 900 items detected (42.86 ± 25.36 mean ± SD items per individual), or 1.82 items g.wet mass−1. 58 % of items were cellulose and 22 % plastic. Considering the plastic polymer compositions, 28.57 % were polyethylene terephthalate (PET), 21.43 % acrylic, 14.29 % high-density polyethylene (HDPE), 14.29 % Polypropylene (PP), 7.14 % ultra-high drawn polyethylene filament (UHMWPE), 7.14 % polyester and 7.14 % Polyethylene. The quantities and prevalence of MP in L. elliptica were higher than those found in other Antarctic marine species, and even in bivalves from populated regions of the world. Our work assessed the pollution status of L. elliptica near an effluent of wastewater plants and found that 95 % of individuals displayed MP and 100 % microfibers that could impact their population.


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Authors: González-Aravena, Marcelo, Rotunno, Carmen, Cárdenas, César A., Torres, Mariett, Morley, Simon A. ORCIDORCID record for Simon A. Morley, Hurley, Jessica, Caro-Lara, Luis, Pozo, Karla, Galban, Cristóbal, Rondon, Rodolfo

On this site: Simon Morley
1 April, 2024
Marine Pollution Bulletin / 201
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