Microplastic contamination of intertidal sediments of Scapa Flow, Orkney: A first assessment

TitleMicroplastic contamination of intertidal sediments of Scapa Flow, Orkney: A first assessment
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsBlumenröder, J, Sechet, P, Kakkonen, JE, Hartl, MGJ
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Start Page112
Pagination112 - 120
Date Published11/2017
ISBN Number0025-326X
KeywordsIntertidal sediment, Microplastic

The concentration of microplastic particles and fibres was determined in the intertidal sediments at selected sites in Scapa Flow, Orkney, using a super-saturated NaCl flotation technique to extract the plastic and FT-IR spectroscopy to determine the polymer types. Mean concentrations were 730 and 2300kg−1 sediment (DW), respectively. Detailed spatial and quantitative analysis revealed that their distribution was a function of proximity to populated areas and associated wastewater effluent, industrial installations, degree of shore exposure and complex tidal flow patterns. Sediment samples from Orkney showed similar levels of microplastic contamination as in two highly populate industrialized mainland UK areas, The Clyde and the Firth of Forth. It was concluded that relative remoteness and a comparative small island population are not predictors of lower microplastic pollution. Furthermore, a larger concerted effort across Scotland and the UK is required to establish a baseline microplastic database for the evaluation of future policy measures.

Short TitleMarine Pollution Bulletin