Persistent organic pollutants monitoring in marine coastal environment using beached plastic resin pellets and effective risk communication via International Pellet Watch (IPW) as a tool.

Friday, 19 December 2014
Bee Geok Maybelline Yeo, Hideshige Takada and Junki Hosoda, Tokyo Univ. of Agric. & Tech., Tokyo, Japan
International Pellet Watch (IPW) is an ongoing global monitoring of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) using preproduction plastic resin pellets. These pellets are easily collected and transported allowing the general public worldwide to get involved. Thus, risk communication toward the pellet collectors is a significant part of IPW to ensure continuous effort and interest. The pellet samples were analyzed for polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and degradation products (DDTs), and hexachlorocyclohexanes (HCHs). Additional pollutants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and Hopanes were also analyzed for some samples. Analytical results showed distinct patterns with high concentrations (< 200ng/g-pellet) of PCBs in urban and industrialized areas mainly in the United States, Japan, and some European countries. These countries are prone to legacy pollution where PCBs were used extensively before the ban in the late 1980’s. Pesticide DDTs instead were found to be higher in developing countries such as Brazil and Vietnam (> 500ng/g-pellet). These countries may still be using DDTs as a vector control mostly to combat malaria. High concentrations of DDTs were also found in Greece, China and Australia (> 100ng/g-pellet) suggesting the possibility of illegal usage as pesticide or anti fouling paint. HCHs concentrations were mostly low due to its low retention in the environment. However, high HCHs concentrations were mostly found in the southern hemisphere. Very high concentration of PAHs in pellet samples can be utilized for early identification of recent oil pollution. High PAHs concentration in Tauranga, New Zealand was found to be caused by local oil spill. Hopanes in pellets can be used for source identification of oil pollution. Global mapping and comparison among IPW data can be used to provide better explanations to IPW volunteers by sorting concentrations into pollution categories. Communication reports are tailor written based on the volunteers familiarity to IPW’s issues, educational background, occupation and their potential to further spread awareness. Based on feedbacks, the volunteers were grateful to receive reports of their samples felt personally involved in IPW. This was shown to empowered and encouraged efforts from the volunteers.