Microplastics in Singapore’s mangroves

Nur Hazimah Mohamed Nor, Jeffrey Philip Obbard, 2014. Microplastics in Singapore’s coastal mangrove ecosystems. Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 79 (1–2): 278-283, ISSN 0025-326X, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.11.025 [http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X13007261]

Abstract: The prevalence of microplastics was studied in seven intertidal mangroves habitats of Singapore. Microplastics were extracted from mangrove sediments via a floatation method, and then counted and categorized according to particle shape and size. Representative microplastics from Berlayar Creek, Sungei Buloh, Pasir Ris and Lim Chu Kang were isolated for polymer identification using Attenuated Total Reflectance–Fourier Transform Infrared (ATR–FTIR) spectroscopy.

Microplastics were identified in all seven habitats, with the highest concentration found in sediments at Lim Chu Kang in the northwest of Singapore. The majority of microplastics were fibrous and smaller than 20 μm. A total of four polymer types were identified, including polyethylene, polypropylene, nylon and polyvinyl chloride.

The relationship between abundance of microplastics and sediment grain size was also investigated, but no relationship was apparent. The presence of microplastics is likely due to the degradation of marine plastic debris accumulating in the mangroves.

Thanks Fabiano Barreto and Sam Judd for the alert!

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