Til hovedinnhold

Assessment and Comparison of Microplastic Contamination in Atlantic Navigation Routes with Known Uncertainty

Vitenskapelig artikkel
Environmental Science and Technology
Eksterne nettsted
José Miguel Almeida, Cecilie Singdahl-Larsen, Nina Tuscano Buenaventura, Luís Gomes, Vanessa Morgado, Marianne Olsen, Ricardo Bettencourt da Silva, Carla Palma


Microplastics (MP) have been found in various environments worldwide. However, not many studies focus on the open ocean due to logistical restraints. Between January and May 2020, the NRP Sagres sampled 123 linear paths of subsurface water of the Atlantic Ocean, passing by Cape Verde, the east coast of South America, and the west coast of Africa. The water was sampled through the ship’s water system. The membranes were analyzed by the Hydrographic Institute of Portugal and the Norwegian Institute for Water Research by micro-FTIR. The contamination levels were reported with uncertainty, for 99% confidence level (CL), normalized for filtered water volume and the distance traveled during sampling. Uncertainties were calculated through a detailed ″bottom-up″ evaluation. MP were found in about a third of the stations (48 out of 123), and most of those stations (43 out of 48) presented concentrations below 1 m–3 km–1. The sites where higher concentrations were registered were the port of the island of Santiago (Cape Verde) ((5.9 ± 5.2) m–3 km–1), the Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) ((41 ± 27) m–3 km–1), and close to South Africa ((4.9 ± 2.4) m–3 km–1). Most MP found were polyamide, polyester, polyethylene, ethylene vinyl acetate, and poly(methyl methacrylate). The estimated contamination levels cannot be directly compared with information obtained in other studies due to differences in how MP were determined and the unknown uncertainty of their measured values. This article presents a relevant and reliable contribution to understanding the MP distribution in the Atlantic Ocean.