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Microplastics on the Southern and Southeastern coast of Brazil: occurrence, distribution and sources

Grant number: 19/03665-0
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: January 01, 2022 - December 31, 2023
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Oceanography - Chemical Oceanography
Cooperation agreement: European Commission (Horizon 2020)
Principal researcher:Rosalinda Carmela Montone
Grantee:Rosalinda Carmela Montone
Principal researcher abroad: Luca Brandt
Institution abroad: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
Home Institution: Instituto Oceanográfico (IO). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Assoc. researchers:Caio Vinícius Zecchin Cipro ; Maria Virginia Petry ; Theresinha Monteiro Absher


Although microplastics are ubiquitous, only scarce information is available in the Brazilian marine area, mainly close to the continental shelf. Many plastic material and debris are disposed in shoreline dumps or aquatic areas and end in the sea. The presence of microplastics in the marine environment will be assessed in water and sediment samples collected in the continental shelf of Brazilian southern coast in an area called mudbelts, an elongated deposition center of mud. In addition, plastic fragments found in seabirds, such as the spectacled petrel - Procellaria conspicillata that feeds in the sampling area and is often found dead on the southern beaches of the country will be sampled and classified in types of polymers by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) will be analysed in plastic found in those animals and in each station the total amount of those found in water and sediment, since the fragments are very small to be analysed individually. Sediment samples will be taken from about 10 stations around the coastal area of south and southeast of Brazil, using Box corer sediment samples 30-40 cm long. Microplastics separation will be performed with zinc chloride using the principle of flotation density in a Sediment-Microplastic Isolation (SMI). The sea surface samples will be collected through manta trawl. Seabird carcasses will be sampled monthly on a 120 km stretch of beach on the middle coast of the south region of Brazil. For the analysis of POPs, the samples will be extracted in Soxhlet with organic solvents. Purification will be carried out in adsorption chromatography with alumina and silica. The compounds will be quantitatively analysed by a gas chromatograph coupled to a mass spectrometer (GC/MS) and gas chromatograph equipped with electron capture detector (GC-ECD). The results will be used to assess the fate and trends of plastic debris occurrence along the southern coast of Brazil and its influence in the marine environment. (AU)

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