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New results from international pellet watch

Published on
June 5, 2012

The International Pellet Watch aims to document global patters of chemical pollutants by studying the presence of such substances on industrial granules found on beaches worldwide. The granules act as a sponge collecting pollutants from the marine environment.

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In early 2011, Belgian student Jasmien Claeys participated in the IMARES plastic research for a school project on Plastic Soup. Her fulmar work was extended to sampling of small plastics from the Belgian beach for further research. By sieving sand from the beach at Westende-Bad, Jasmien collected a variety of small plastic consumer debris as well as a large number of industrial plastic pellets.

small consumer plastic debris collected by Jasmien at the beach of Westende-bad, Belgium
small consumer plastic debris collected by Jasmien at the beach of Westende-bad, Belgium

The industrial granules were sent to the labs of Professor Takada in Japan for analyses. The findings became available recently. Belgian results fit the larger scale pattern in which pellets from western Europe still contain a considerable legacy of former grave PCB pollution, but very low levels of DDT and HCH.

industrial plastics collected by Jasmien at the beach of Westende-bad, Belgium
industrial plastics collected by Jasmien at the beach of Westende-bad, Belgium

Over the globe, patterns can be very difficult, with for example substantial DDT pollution still occurring in several areas around the globe.