Trace metals in polyethylene debris from the North Atlantic subtropical gyre

Abstract : Plastic pollution in the marine environment poses threats to wildlife and habitats through varied mechanisms, among which are the transport and transfer to the food web of hazardous substances. Still, very little is known about the metal content of plastic debris and about sorption/desorption processes, especially with respect to weathering. In this study, plastic debris collected from the North Atlantic subtropical gyre was analyzed for trace metals; as a comparison, new packaging materials were also analyzed. Both the new items and plastic debris showed very scattered concentrations. The new items contained significant amounts of trace metals introduced as additives, but globally, metal concentrations were higher in the plastic debris. The results provide evidence that enhanced metal concentrations increase with the plastic state of oxidation for some elements, such as As, Ti, Ni, and Cd. Transmission electron microscopy showed the presence of mineral particles on the surface of the plastic debris. This work demonstrates that marine plastic debris carries complex mixtures of heavy metals. Such materials not only behave as a source of metals resulting from intrinsic plastic additives but also are able to concentrate metals from ocean water as mineral nanoparticles or adsorbed species.
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Jonathan Prunier, Laurence Maurice, Emile Perez, Julien Gigault, Anne-Catherine Pierson Wickmann, et al.. Trace metals in polyethylene debris from the North Atlantic subtropical gyre. Environmental Pollution, Elsevier, 2019, 245, pp.371-379. ⟨10.1016/j.envpol.2018.10.043⟩. ⟨insu-01921691⟩

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