Hazardous Chemicals in Plastics in Marine Environments: International Pellet Watch

Rei Yamashita, Kosuke Tanaka, Bee Geok Yeo, Hideshige Takada*, Jan A. van Franeker, Megan Dalton, Eric Dale

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Marine plastic debris, including microplastics <5 mm, contain additives as well as hydrophobic chemicals sorbed from surrounding seawater. A volunteer-based global monitoring programme entitled International Pellet Watch (IPW) is utilizing the sorptive nature of plastics, more specifically of beached polyethylene (PE) pellets, in order to measure persistent organic pollutants (POPs) throughout the world. Spatial patterns of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine pesticides have been revealed. Original data of IPW show large piece-to-piece variability in PCB concentrations in pellets collected at each location. This is explained by the combination of slow sorption/desorption and large variabilities of speed and route of floating plastics. The sporadically high concentrations of POPs, both sorbed chemicals and hydrophobic additives, are frequently observed in pellets and the other microplastics in open ocean and remote islands. This poses a chemical threat to marine ecosystems in remote areas.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHazardous Chemicals Associated with Plastics in the Marine Environment
ISBN (Electronic)9783319955681
ISBN (Print)9783319955667
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameHandbook of Environmental Chemistry
ISSN (Print)1867-979X


  • Additives
  • Equilibrium
  • Open ocean
  • Pellets
  • Sorption


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