Analysis of small microplastics in coastal surface water samples of the subtropical island of Okinawa, Japan

Marine plastic debris is widely recognized as a global environmental issue. Small microplastic particles, with an upper size limit of 20 μm, have been identified as having the highest potential for causing damage to marine ecosystems. Having accurate methods for quantifying the abundance of such particles in a natural environment is essential for defining the extent of the problem they pose. Using an optical micro-Raman tweezers setup, we have identified the composition of particles trapped in marine aggregates collected from the coastal surface waters around the subtropical island of Okinawa. Chemical composition analysis at the single-particle level indicates dominance by low-density polyethylene, which accounted for 75% of the small microplastics analysed. The smallest microplastics identified were (2.53 ± 0.85) μm polystyrene. Our results show the occurrence of plastics at all test sites, with the highest concentration in areas with high human activities. We also observed additional Raman peaks on the plastics spectrum with decreasing debris size which could be related to structural modification due to weathering or embedding in organic matter. By identifying small microplastics at the single-particle level, we obtain some indication on their dispersion in the ocean which could be useful for future studies on their potential impact on marine biodiversity.

Latest Posts

Leaving a plastic legacy: Current and future scenarios for mismanaged plastic waste in rivers

This paper examines the exposure of river systems to MPW in order to better understand the sedimentary processes that control the legacy of plastic waste. According to the study, about 0.8 million tonnes of MPW entered rivers globally in 2015, affecting about 84 percent of rivers by surface area. According to the study, the amount[…]

A critical review on recent research progress on microplastic pollutants in drinking water

The article summarizes the results of various scientific studies regarding the presence of microplastics in different drinking water sources. Further research is required to understand the effects of microplastic bioaccumulation on living organisms. There is a growing concern about microplastic pollution in the environment, which needs to be addressed and further research should be conducted[…]

‘Unlocking circular economy for prevention of marine plastic pollution: An exploration of G20 policy and initiatives’

Based on a custom framework for MPP policy that combines circular economy (CE) and life-cycle perspectives, the paper provides an overview of existing policies and identifies further policy options. Approximately 300 million tons of MPP are produced annually by land-based sources, which severely impacts marine ecosystems and harms livelihoods. Microplastic pollution is an issue that[…]

How plastic debris and associated chemicals impact the marine food web: A review

This review seeks to identify the complexity of impacts to marine organisms through the food web from plastic contamination. Contamination from plastic debris in marine environments pose a substantial risk to marine organisms, food webs and the ecosystem. The study investigates the intrusion of plastics into the marine food web and the subsequent consequences of[…]

Biodegradation of Different Types of Bioplastics through Composting—A Recent Trend in Green Recycling

The review highlights the extent and rate of the biodegradation of bioplastic in composting, soil, and aquatic environments. Bioplastic alternatives to petroleum-derived plastics are becoming more and more prevalent and have the potential to make a significant contribution to reducing plastic pollution in the environment. However, their biodegradation is highly dependent on various factors in[…]