To main content

Fate, source and mass budget of sedimentary microplastics in the Bohai Sea and the Yellow Sea


As reservoirs for pollutants transported via the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, the Bohai Sea (BS) and Yellow Sea (YS) play an important role in transporting microplastics (MPs) to the Pacific Ocean. The fate, sources and mass budget of MPs in the BS and the YS were investigated by Pearson correlation, principal component analysis-multilinear regression analysis (PCA-MRLA) and a mass balance model to sedimentary MPs data. Average MP abundances were 137 and 119 items kg-1 in the Bohai and Yellow Seas, respectively. MPs <1000 μm exhibited similar distribution patterns to total organic carbon and fine-grained sediments, while MPs >1000 μm were confined in the BS and exhibited a strong positive correlation with chlorophyll-a and polyethylene terephthalate, suggesting that larger MPs might deposit faster due to biofouling or when comprised of high density polymers. PCA-MLRA analysis indicated land-based inputs (packing materials, textile material and daily commodities) were dominant in the BS, while maritime activities (fishing and mariculture) were the main source of MPs in the YS. The mass balance model revealed that the total MP input and output to the BS and the YS was 3396.92 t yr-1 and 3814.81 t yr-1, respectively. The major input pathway of MPs to the BS and the YS were river discharge and air deposition, respectively. Notably, 94% of MPs in the BS and the YS were deposited to sediments. This study revealed that BS and YS sediments play an important
role in preventing MPs from being further transported to the Pacific Ocean, thus more attention should be paid to local ecological risk assessment.


Academic article


  • Research Council of Norway (RCN) / 287939




  • Mingyu Zhang
  • Yan Lin
  • Andrew Booth
  • Xikun Song
  • Yaozong Cui
  • Bin Xia
  • Zhangjie Gu
  • Yifan Li
  • Fengjiao Liu
  • Minggang Cai


  • Unknown
  • SINTEF Ocean / Climate and Environment



Published in

Environmental Pollution (1987)







View this publication at Cristin