Degradation of common polymer ropes in a sublittoral marine environment

Welden, N. A. and Cowie, P. (2017) Degradation of common polymer ropes in a sublittoral marine environment. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 118(1-2), 248 - 253. (doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.02.072) (PMID:28267994)

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Abstract

Contamination by microplastic particles and fibres has been observed in sediment and animals sampled from the Firth of Clyde, West Scotland. In addition to microplastics released during clothes washing, a probable source is polymer ropes in abandoned, lost and discarded fishing and recreational sailing gear. The fragmentation of polypropylene, polyethylene, and nylon exposed to benthic conditions at 10 m depth over 12 months was monitored using changes in weight and tensile properties. Water temperature and light levels were continuously monitored. The degree of biofouling was measured using chlorophyll a, the weight of attached macroalgae, and colonising fauna. Results indicate microplastic fibres and particles may be formed in benthic environments despite reduced photodegradation. Polypropylene, Nylon, and polyethylene lost an average of 0.39%, 1.02%, and 0.45% of their mass per month respectively. Microscope images of the rope surface revealed notable surface roughening believed to be caused by abrasion by substrate and the action of fouling organisms.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Microplastic, microfibre, marine pollution, biofouling, tensile strength, fragmentation
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Welden, Dr Natalie and Cowie, Dr Phillip
Authors: Welden, N. A., and Cowie, P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences
College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Journal Name:Marine Pollution Bulletin
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0025-326X
ISSN (Online):1879-3363
Published Online:03 March 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Elsevier
First Published:First published in Marine Pollution Bulletin 118:248-253
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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