Study: Antifouling May be a Major Source of Microplastic Pollution

1 Like

Interesting article, though they seem to be very long on speculation and short on actual science in their “detective work”. If the amount of microplastics they found is related to antifouling paint, then they should be able to show a) a chemical relationship; and b) a volumetric study as to how much ablated paint would be necessary to produce the level of microplastics found.
Maybe it’s one of those “more research (i.e., grant money) is required”. studies.


It’s good to see more microplastic articles getting around. This article is a bit delusional, depending on your definition of ‘major’, but anything that draws attention to the problem is good by me.

The biggest lesson we should take from the global warming/carbon issue is despite the worst fears not being realized we found that out by conducting an experiment on a global scale. Let’s not conduct the same experiment with microplastics.

deleted by author

This is from the article:

Based on the mass and chemical properties of these fragments, they were able to match these substances to their respective classes of polymers, yielding clues into roughly what type of plastic product they came from.

The study shows that the plastics found near shore match the characteristics of plastics used in consumer goods and plastics found in the shipping lanes may match that found in bottom paint.

Based on that they say it’s likely the source is from ships. That seems like a reasonable conclusion.

No where does it say that it’s been proven conclusively or even if that was the purpose of the study.

Well, K_C, you are correct, though the operative words there are “…may match…” . It strikes me that what they did was to speculate on what the source of these particles was and all they could come up with was “ships”. Since the study was conducted in areas of the North Sea, are there other things in the offshore waters there with exposure times that are similar to ships? I think there might be, but I don’t know for sure.
It seems to me before I accused an entire industry of causing what is widely perceived (but not proven) to be pollution, it might be a better idea to see if their findings match up to their speculation in other measurable ways.
For example, one might presume that these plastics were also found in the near-coastal waters where consumer packaging plastics overwhelmed the findings - but if their concentration is so low as to disappear in those environments, why are they an issue further out? They then go on to talk about the compounds found in antifouling paints - but without any data to show they actually found these compounds while conducting their study. Could these plastics have been carried into the ocean as dust from the land? Could they be paint debris from other structures or sources? I have no idea - and they don’t seem to, either.

Perhaps not related to antifouling pollution, but read an interesting article about a decades long problem with sudden demise of coho salmon in Puget Sound. University of Washington /Tacoma researchers seperated over 2000 chemicals in tire manufacturing. One called “6-ppd-quinone” is used to prevent ozone damage to the tires. As the bits of tire wear off , and a rain washes it off the roads, and into the streams it becomes 100 times more toxic. My interest (as well as the fish kill)was these similar particles of rubber are used on artificial turf, which there is also studies going on regarding sick athletes that play on turf. Google it.