Screening for microplastics in sediment, water, marine invertebrates and fish: method development and microplastic accumulation

Therese Karlsson, A.D. Vethaak, Bethany Carney Almroth, Freek Ariese, M.J.M. van Velzen, Martin Hassellöv, H.A. Leslie

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Measurements of microplastics in biota and abiotic matrices are key elements of exposure and risk assessments for this emerging environmental pollutant. We investigated the abundance of microplastics in field-collected biota, sediment and water. An improved sediment extraction method, based on density separation was developed. For analysis of microplastics in biota we found that an adapted enzymatic digestion protocol using proteinase K performed best, with a 97% recovery of spiked plastic particles and no observed degradation effects on the plastics in subsequent Raman analysis. Field analysis revealed that 8 of 9 tested invertebrate species from the North Sea and 68% of analyzed individuals of brown trout (Salmo trutta) from the Swedish West Coast had microplastics in them. Based on the number of plastic per kg d.w. the microplastic concentrations found in mussels were approximately a thousand-fold higher compared to those in sediment and surface water samples from the same location.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-408
Number of pages6
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number1-2
Early online date6 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2017


The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement no. 308370. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the CleanSea project and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union. We also acknowledge additional funding from the Swedish Research Council Formas (2012-625 and 2014-1146).

FundersFunder number
Seventh Framework Programme308370
Svenska Forskningsrådet Formas2012-625, 2014-1146
Seventh Framework Programme


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