Flocculation of PVC microplastic and fine-grained cohesive sediment at environmentally realistic concentrations

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

Microplastic particles have become ubiquitous in aquatic environments and can be found in large numbers in riverine, estuarine, and marine settings at the surface of water, in suspension, and as particles deposited at the bed. The transport and settling behavior of small microplastic particles is likely very dependent on interactions with other suspended particles. Herewe showfromsettling tube experiments conducted in the laboratory that fragments and threads of polyvinylchloride microplastic in the size range of 63–125 mm readily flocculated with fine-grained natural sediment under relative particle number concentrations that can be observed in nature in high-turbidity estuarine and coastal environments. The implication of this flocculation is that the microplastic particles are suspended and transported incorporated in aggregates that settle faster than the individual microplastic particles. This is causing a continuous sedimentation of microplastic particles in estuarine and marine settings, resulting in increased microplastic loading for benthic life in these environments.

TidsskriftBiological Bulletin
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)42-51
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - feb. 2021

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