Microplastics and ship paint in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica

, Leistenschneider Clara, Burkhardt-Holm Patricia, Gerdts Gunnar, Primpke Sebastian.

Microplastics (MP) have been found in nearly all oceans and seas around the world with highest densities mostly recorded in areas directly impacted by human activities or the ocean gyres. Yet, MP pollution has also reached remote regions including the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica, where studies are relatively scarce. Further research is needed to help determine possible sources and areas vulnerable to MP accumulations. Ship paints (SP) containing synthetic polymers as e.g. polyurethane, alkyd and epoxy resins have recently been recognized as a MP source and can be released, inter alia, during normal ship operation. However, there is insufficient knowledge about the qualitative and quantitative contributions of MP from this source. In this study, 34 surface water samples were taken in the Weddell Sea one of the most inaccessible places in the Southern Ocean. ATR-FTIR spectroscopy of visually sorted particles (¿300µm, n=771) revealed MP concentrations ranging between 0 and 0.04 MP m-3 (mean 0.01 MP m-3). Polyester accounted for 48% of all assigned particles followed by PE (16%), PP (10%), Acrylates/PUR/varnish (8%) and synthetic resins (7%). Half of the sorted fragments had similar visual characteristics as SP taken from the research vessel as reference. Most of these fragments (90%), however, could not be clearly assigned by ATR-FTIR (HQ

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