PRESENTING THE GLOBAL PROBLEM OF MICROPLASTICS POLLUTION AT THE 6TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON INDUSTRIAL & HAZARDOUS WASTE MANAGEMENT.

Eleonora Faraggiana, eleofara@gmail.com

Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation, P.O. Box 42 Pythagorio 83 103 Samos (Greece)

Context

During the 6th International Conference on Industrial & HazardousWaste Management, taking place in Chania (Crete) between 4th – 7th September 2018, I was invited for a poster presentation on my research project, titled: “Variation inmicroplastics content detected in commercially important marine species of the Eastern Aegean Sea” (Fig. 1), which I carried out during my internship at Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation, on Samos Island.

 

 

Objectives & Methods

The aim of the project was to assess the microplastics content found in the digestive tract of commercialised marine species of Samos Island (Fig. 2a, 2b). Twenty-seven samples, of which four fish of different habitat ranges: atlantic bonito, yellowmouth baraccuda, bogue, & annular seabream (Sarda sarda, Sphyraena viridensis, Boops boops, Diplodus annularis) and two invertebrate species: european flat oyster and purple sea urchin (Ostrea edulis, Paracentrotus lividus) were collected. Analyses were conducted as follows: dissection of samples, filtration of their digestive system (Fig. 2c, 2d); analyses for microplastics quantification and categorisation through a hot needle test⁴ under magnification x40 (Fig. 2b).

 

Results

100% of samples showed signs of microplastics contamination, and a total of 1302 microplastics items was detected among all 27 individuals. The distribution of microplastics significantly varied across four habitat ranges, with semipelagic species showing higher amount of microplastics content (Fig. 3). Plastic fibres were ubiquitous and represented the most abundant category of plastics (among hard fragments, pellets and other types of plastics).

 

 

Conclusion

This study confirms the persistence and ubiquity of microplastics at all trophic levels. However, further and targeted analyses on different species are necessary to quantify and assess microplastics at each level of the marine trophic chain. Global cooperation and intervention strategies will be required in order to reduce plastic waste and investigate potential toxic effects of contaminated seafood to humans.

Participating to the 6th International Conference on Industrial & Hazardous Waste Management has been an incredibly enriching and rewarding experience. By presenting my research on microplastics pollution in the sea, I had the possibility to talk about this crucial, hot topic with a wide and diverse range of international scientists and delegates. Overall, the Conference emphasised the most critical aspects of waste management, from landfills to marine and industrial waste, also suggesting new and more sustainable alternatives for the future years.