Study of microplastics role in seawater based on collected samples across the oceans during the Barcelona World Race 2015


Singla Milà, Mireia 


Microplastics have become a huge environmental concern in recent years. The overproduction and excessive use of plastic have made difficult a proper manage and that is why it has become the fastest growing segment of the waste stream. Plastic debris, through several physical, chemical and biological processes can degrade or breakdown resulting in microplastics. In addition to these it can also find other type of microplastics which are those originally and intentionally manufactured in that size. Although several research studies have been published demonstrating the presence of microplastics in localised coastal regions, any of them show a global scenario about this environmental concern. Here we present the development of a new methodology for microplastics sampling and retention of pollutants present in seawater. In this sense, we have collaborated with the Barcelona World Race (BWR) organization and the “Fundació de Navegació Oceànica de Barcelona” (FNOB). Throughout this collaboration, we have developed a device, named COA device, installed in a racing boat of the BWR 2015 which collects microplastics and pollutants on superficial seawater from the different locations of the world going through four oceans (Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans). Furthermore, we performed the characterization of the microparticles collected during the BWR 2015. The analysis, based on microscopic techniques, of their morphology, composition and distribution has allowed us to know better the level of pollution of the marine environment and which is the global impact of having that particles in the oceans. In addition to that, we demonstrate the microplastics concentration effect of persistent organic pollutants. We also developed a reproducible analytical methodology based on a new approach for the release and quantification of different families of pollutants from polymeric microparticles. Finally, different analytical methods have been optimized for the analysis of several pollutants solved in seawater. The elution of pollutants retained in the SPE cartridges used in the BWR 2015 has been performed. In conclusion, this thesis provides information about the overall status of the oceans in terms of microplastics and their consequences at present. The study of the role of microplastics in seawater in a global way have been helpful to understand the actual environmental situation.




Borrós Gómez, Salvador 
Broto Puig, Francesc   


IQS SE - Química Analítica i Aplicada

Date of defense