Microplastics Baseline Surveys at the Water Surface and in Sediments of the North-East Atlantic

Thomas Maes, Myra van der Meulen, Lisa Devriese, H.A. Leslie, Arnaud Huvet, Laura Frère, Johan Robbens, A.D. Vethaak

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Microplastic contamination was determined in sediments of the Southern North Sea and floating at the sea surface of NorthWest Europe. Floating concentrations ranged between 0 and 1.5 microplastic/m3, whereas microplastic concentrations in sediments ranged between 0 and 3,146 particles/kg dry weight sediment. In sediments, mainly fibers and spheres were found, whereas at the sea surface fragments were dominant. At the sea surface, concentrations of microplastics are lower and more variable than in sediments, meaning that larger sample sizes and water volumes are required to find detectable concentrations. We have calculated the widths of the confidence intervals (CI) for different sample sizes, to give a first indication of the necessary sample size for a microplastic survey at the water surface. Higher concentrations of floating microplastics were found
    near estuaries. In sediments, estuaries and areas with a high organic carbon content were likely hotspots. Standardization of monitoring methods within marine regions is recommended to compare and assess microplastics pollution over time.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number135
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
    Issue numberMAY
    Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2017


    • Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)
    • baseline
    • floating debris
    • marine litter
    • microplastics
    • sediment


    Dive into the research topics of 'Microplastics Baseline Surveys at the Water Surface and in Sediments of the North-East Atlantic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this