Data Ingestion Portal

Wake up your data - set them free for Blue Society

Details of Microplastic particles in North Sea sediments 2015


Dataset identification

Title of datasetMicroplastic particles in North Sea sediments 2015
Narrative summary of datasetContents and composition of microplastic particles have been analysed in ten sediment samples from the Danish part of the open North Sea in 2015. The contents of microplastic particles in the size range 20-5000 µm were determined to be in the range of 192-675 particles per kg dry weight sediment, dominated by blue and black coloured particles, mainly as fibres, and particle sizes < 300 µm were dominating.
Summary of processing methodologySediment samples consisting of ~50 ml (~100 g wet weight (ww)) were first digested by two hours of thoroughly shaking with 100 ml of a 30 % VIP1 solution (industrial agent from NOVODAN aps, Denmark) consisting of ~3 % potassium hydroxide, ~1 % potassium tripolyphosphate, ~1 % potassium silicate and ~7 % sodium hypochlorite, so dominant fractions of natural organic matter were decomposed. Similar treatment of different types of common plastic materials showed no larger external changes in the particle structure Figure 2.1. North Sea sampling stations for ten sediments analysed for microplastics in 2015. 11 and colour (Strand et al. 2013). The chemical digestion step was followed by five minutes of ultrasonic treatment. The remaining particles were then allowed to settle in the glass for five minutes. Consequently, the supernatant was removed into a new glass. The remaining sediment sample was then treated two times with saturated saline solution, to separate particles according to density, by adding 100 ml of saline solution, followed by ten minutes of shaking and consequently five minutes of ultrasonic treatment. The sample was allowed to sediment for five minutes after each of the two steps. Pooled supernatant was divided into six size fractions, i.e. 20-38, 38-100, 100-300, 300-1000 and 1000-5000 µm, by being flushed with filtered freshwater through the sediment test sieves (Retsch) placed on top of each according to decreasing mesh size. The remaining sediment sample was also flushed through the test sieves of sizes 300-1000 and 1000-5000 µm. For each size fraction, particles retained on the test sieves and regarded as of synthetic origin were visually identified based on their relatively homogenous texture and structure using a stereo microscope (20-50x magnification). The identified microplastic particles were isolated, counted and characterized with respect to their colour and type/shape, i.e. as elongated filaments (i.e. “fibres”), plastic film and plastic fragments, granules or round spherules according to the descriptions adopted from EU guidance on monitoring of marine litter (EU 2013) (figure 2.2). Plastic film and plastic fragments were counted as one category, as they were relatively difficult to distinguish from each other, especially at sizes less than 300 µm. This group also only represented a minor group compared to other identified types of microparticles. An additional group of particles was characterised as particles of “uncertain origin”, as during the visual microscope analyses it was not possible to properly assess whether they consisted of remaining natural matter or were made of synthetic polymer materials. This “uncertain” group consisted mainly of transparent fibres. From the fractions of 20-38 and 38-100 µm, only fibres longer than 100 µm were isolated and counted. The following fractions were stored for potential, later analysis by Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy: 1) all isolated particles of plastic origin including particles categorised as “uncertain origin”. 2) all remains of samples from size fractions 20-38 and 38-100 µm. For quality assurance of the analyses, all glassware was cleaned and baked in the oven at 450 °C prior to the start of the microplastic analysis, and all the reagents were filtered using 20 µm mesh sizes. Additionally, the risk for airborne particulate contamination was controlled every day of sample analysis, by leaving two open Petri dishes with filtered water that were put out every day prior to the start of the sample preparation and analysis. On a daily basis, 2-8 particles on average were recorded in the Petri dishes that all days were dominated by transparent fibre particles (70-100 %). Data for all analysed samples were therefore assessed to have adequate quality, because the potential, airborne contamination did not exceed 10 % of the total amount of the collected microparticles from the samples analysed the same day. Two replicate samples were analysed for sample DMU1073 only, and average data are reported in the result section whereas data for both replicates are shown in Appendix 2. The characterisation of colours of microplastic particles was performed according to the colour codes listed in the EU guidance document (see table in figure 2.2), and were as following: transparent, crystalline, white, red, orange, blue, black, grey, brown, green, pink and yellow.
Project/programmeScientific Report from DCE – Danish Centre for Environment and Energy No. 178
Start date2015-08-25
End date2015-08-29

Responsible organisations

Organisation nameAarhus University,Danish Centre for Environment and Energy
Role of organisationOriginator of Dataset

Dataset availability

Original dataset download link
Dataset formatDelimited
Text or Plaintext
Public accessNo limitations
License for useODC-By


Latitude north boundary58.104167801586
Longitude east boundary10.350078899273
Latitude south boundary53.674113417924
Longitude west boundary5.6918757742731
Coordinate reference systemWorld Geodetic System 84
Sea areaNorth Sea

Data types, collection and processing

Observation typeRock and sediment physical properties
ParameterDissolved organic carbon concentrations in sediment pore waters
Micro-litter in sediments
Sediment water content, porosity and surface area
Instrument typeunconsolidated sediment corers
Instrument nameUnspecified box corer
Platform typeship

Process information

Submitting organisationAarhus University, Department of Bioscience, Marine Ecology Roskilde
Submission identifier (UUID)1ffc476c-a2f5-4381-a580-d5a6d33612fd
Date of dataset creation2016-01-01
Date of metadata creation2019-03-06
Date of metadata latest revision2019-05-22
Date of publishing2019-05-24
Processing data centreAarhus University, Department of Bioscience, Marine Ecology Roskilde
Summary record-ID519