Suspended Microplastics in the Surface Water of the Yangtze Estuary System, China: First Observations on Occurrence, Distribution

Monday, 15 December 2014
Shiye Zhao, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China
Levels of microplastics (MPs) in China are completely unknown. Here suspended MPs were characterized quantitatively and qualitatively for the Yangtze Estuary and East China Sea. MPs were extracted via a floatation method. MPs were then counted and categorized according to shape and size under a dissecting microscope. The MP densities were 4137.3±2461.5 and 0.167±0.138 n/m3 in the estuarine and the sea waters, respectively. Plastic abundances varied strongly in the estuary. Higher density in the C transect corroborated that rivers were the important sources of MP to the marine environment. MPs (0.5-5mm) constituted more than 90% of total plastics. Plastic particles (> 5 mm) were observed with a maximum size of 12.46 mm. The most frequent plastics were fibres, followed by granules and films. Plastic spherules occurred sparsely. Transparent and coloured plastics comprised the majority of the particle colours. This study provides clues in understanding MPs fate and potential source.