River Deltas as hotspots of microplastic accumulation: The case study of the Ebro River (NW Mediterranean)

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Abstract

© 2019 Elsevier B.V. Microplastics (MPs) are considered pollutants that are ubiquitously distributed in aquatic environments. One of the key hotspot areas to understand fluxes of MPs entering into the oceans are transitional systems, between fresh and marine waters, where river estuaries in particular play an important role. In this study we analyzed MPs occurrence in the Ebro River Delta, Northeastern Iberian Peninsula, one of the largest wetland areas in the NW Mediterranean Basin. Microplastic profile, abundance, distribution, and characteristics were screened across different environmental matrices. MPs were collected in sandy beaches on the northern edge of the delta, in estuarine benthic sediments, and in surface waters of the Ebro River, with a mean abundance of 422 ± 119 MPs·kg−1 DW, 2052 ± 746 MPs·kg−1 DW and 3.5 ± 1.4 MPs·m−3, respectively. Fibers were found to be the largest class (70 ± 22%) of the three different environmental matrices investigated. We estimated that the Ebro surface water represents an input of 2.14 × 109 MPs·yr−1 to the Mediterranean Sea. The main contribution of this study is a new insight on the distribution of MPs across different environmental matrices in river estuaries, where estuarine benthic sediments were identified as a potential important sink for MPs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1186-1196
Number of pages11
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume687
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2019

Keywords

  • 1ST OBSERVATIONS
  • Beach
  • Estuarine sediments
  • FLOATING MICROPLASTICS
  • GUANGZHOU CITY
  • MARINE-ENVIRONMENT
  • Microplastics
  • PEARL RIVER
  • PLASTIC DEBRIS
  • SEA-LEVEL RISE
  • SEDIMENTS
  • SURFACE WATERS
  • Surface waters
  • WATER TREATMENT PLANTS

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