Heavy metals contamination of sedimentary microplastics in Hong Kong

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

7 Scopus Citations
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  • Wenjie Li
  • Ho-Man Wong
  • Man Zhou
  • Nora Fung-Yee Tam


Original languageEnglish
Article number110977
Journal / PublicationMarine Pollution Bulletin
Online published14 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


This is the first study of heavy metals (As, Zn, Cd, Ni, Fe, Mn, Cu) contamination of microplastics on sandy beaches in Hong Kong. Three study sites are located in the eastern waters (Pak Lap Wan, Stanley Bay, Tung Lung Chau) and the other three in the western waters (Tai Pai Tsui, Ha Pak Nai, Shui Hau Wan). The three most abundant types of microplastics were polyethylene (42.2%), polypropylene (23.3%) and polystyrene (19.5%). The median concentration of Fe (302 mg kg−1) was the highest and followed by Zn (19.6 mg kg−1) and Mn (18.6 mg kg−1). Very low concentrations of Cu (0.89 mg kg−1), Ni (0.15 mg kg−1), As (<LOD) and Cd (<LOD) were measured. The western sites have significantly higher concentrations of Ni, Fe, Mn and Cu than the eastern sites, indicating that Pearl River was likely to be a major source of heavy metals on microplastics. In view of a continual increase in the abundance of microplastics in the marine environment and its potential impacts on marine organisms, immediate actions should be taken in establishing long term monitoring programs for heavy metals associated with microplastics. In-depth research on the mechanisms of adsorption and desorption processes between metals and microplastics will help assess the associated risks to both human health and the environment.

Research Area(s)

  • Heavy metals, Marine debris, Microplastic