Occurrence and chemical characteristics of microplastic paint flakes in the North Atlantic Ocean

Turner, A, Ostle, C and Wootton, M 2022 Occurrence and chemical characteristics of microplastic paint flakes in the North Atlantic Ocean. Science of the Total Environment, 806 (1), 150375. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.150375

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Non-fibrous microplastics sampled by the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) Survey throughout the North Atlantic Ocean during 2018 have been recorded and a selection (n = 17, or 16.7%) physically and chemically characterised. The average abundance of non-fibrous particles captured by the plankton silks and detectable by microscopy was estimated to be around 0.01 m-3, with the highest concentrations evident in shelf seas of northwest Europe. Amongst the samples analysed, median size was 180 μm and, based on visible properties (e.g., brittleness, layering) and infra-red spectra, all but one were identified as flakes of paint. Semi-quantitative analysis by energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometry with a collimated beam revealed that six flakes from European shelf seas were Cu-based antifouling formulations (without evidence of organo-Sn compounds), and five with a broader geographical distribution were Pb-based formulations of likely marine origin. Other elements regularly detected included Cr, Fe, Ti and Zn that were present in pigments or as contaminants from the underlying substrate. After fibres, paint flakes appear to be the most abundant type of microplastic in the oceans that, because of the abundance and mobility of metallic additives, deserve closer scientific attention.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Keywords: Energy-dispersive XRF, Paint flakes, Microplastics, Pigments, Atlantic Ocean, Metals
Subjects: Conservation
Data and Information
Ecology and Environment
Marine Sciences
Divisions: Marine Biological Association of the UK > Continuous Plankton Recorder
Depositing User: Tamar Atkinson
Date made live: 13 May 2022 12:22
Last Modified: 13 May 2022 12:22
URI: https://plymsea.ac.uk/id/eprint/9649

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