Influence of environmental and anthropogenic factors on the composition, concentration and spatial distribution of microplastics: A case study of the Bay of Brest (Brittany, France)

Type Article
Date 2017-06
Language English
Author(s) Frere L.1, Paul-Pont I.1, Rinnert EmmanuelORCID2, Petton SebastienORCID3, Jaffre J1, Bihannic Isabelle1, Soudant P.1, Lambert C.1, Huvet ArnaudORCID3
Affiliation(s) 1 : IFREMER, IUEM,IRD, UBO,LEMAR UMR 6539, CNRS, Rue Dumont dUrville, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
2 : IFREMER, Lab Detect Capteurs & Mesures, Ctr Bretagne, CS 10070, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
3 : IFREMER, LEMAR UMR 6539, CNRS, UBO,IRD,Ctr Bretagne,CS 10070, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
Source Environmental Pollution (0269-7491) (Elsevier Sci Ltd), 2017-06 , Vol. 225 , P. 211-222
DOI 10.1016/j.envpol.2017.03.023
WOS© Times Cited 236
Keyword(s) Microplastic, Coastal ecosystem, Surface water, Sediment, Raman spectroscopy, Hydrodynamic, Dispersal particle modelling

The concentration and spatial distribution of microplastics in the Bay of Brest (Brittany, France) was investigated in two surveys. Surface water and sediment were sampled at nine locations in areas characterized by contrasting anthropic pressures, riverine influences or water mixing. Microplastics were categorized by their polymer type and size class. Microplastic contamination in surface water and sediment was dominated by polyethylene fragments (PE, 53–67%) followed by polypropylene (PP, 16–30%) and polystyrene (PS, 16–17%) microparticles. The presence of buoyant microplastics (PE, PP and PS) in sediment suggests the existence of physical and/or biological processes leading to vertical transfer of lightweight microplastics in the bay. In sediment (upper 5 cm), the percentage of particles identified by Raman micro-spectroscopy was lower (41%) than in surface water (79%) and may explain the apparent low concentration observed in this matrix (0.97 ± 2.08 MP kg−1 dry sediment). Mean microplastic concentration was 0.24 ± 0.35 MP m−3 in surface water. We suggest that the observed spatial MP distribution is related to proximity to urbanized areas and to hydrodynamics in the bay. A particle dispersal model was used to study the influence of hydrodynamics on surface microplastic distribution. The outputs of the model showed the presence of a transitional convergence zone in the centre of the bay during flood tide, where floating debris coming from the northern and southern parts of the bay tends to accumulate before being expelled from the bay. Further modelling work and observations integrating (i) the complex vertical motion of microplastics, and (ii) their point sources is required to better understand the fate of microplastics in such a complex coastal ecosystem.

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Frere L., Paul-Pont I., Rinnert Emmanuel, Petton Sebastien, Jaffre J, Bihannic Isabelle, Soudant P., Lambert C., Huvet Arnaud (2017). Influence of environmental and anthropogenic factors on the composition, concentration and spatial distribution of microplastics: A case study of the Bay of Brest (Brittany, France). Environmental Pollution, 225, 211-222. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :