Microplastics in Marine Bivalves from the Nordic Environment

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Microplastics in marine bivalves from the Nordic environment: MP were analysed in mussels at 100 sites from Grenland to the Baltic. MP were found in 4 out of 5 species. The coastal waters of the North Sea, Kattegat, Skagerrak, and the western Baltic appear to be areas of MP accumulation. Mussels from urbanized areas and harbours contained the most MP. The abundance of MP was especially high in the Oslofjord. A total of 11 different polymer types were detected through 3 chemical characterisation methodes. Black rubbery particles, possibly derived from tyre wear, were the dominant particle type. The presence of rubber compounds was confirmed for Blue mussels (Mytilus) in analysis using pyrolysis GC-MS. This is the first study to document these polymer types in mussels. Mussels, especially Mytilus spp., Limecola balthica and Abra nitida are suitable for monitoring of MP in Nordic waters.




The starting point of this study was to investigate microplastics in biota across the entire Nordic marine environment. Microplastics are found in all compartments of the marine environment, and there is a call from both the scientific community and decision makers to monitor the abundance and composition of these microscopic plastic particles to understand any potential impacts upon the marine ecosystem. Previous studies of microplastics in Nordic biota have mainly been conducted in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, and very few studies were from Skagerrak and Kattegat, as well as from the northern areas and the western areas near the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland. In a pre-study conducted in 2016–2017 bivalves were suggested as suitable bioindicators for monitoring of small microplastic fraction (<1mm). Bivalves tend to be sessile, they filter large volumes of seawater, they are relatively abundant and they are already used to monitor contaminants. Furthermore, the seafloor is considered an accumulation site for microplastics and many species of bivalves live on or near the seafloor.

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