2022 Volume 2 Pages 14-21
Among the plastic debris surveyed in the marine environment, a large quantity in terms of volume was found to be expanded polystyrene foam (EPS). This is due to its light weight and popularity as a packaging material. In this study, 28 compounds of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs) were analyzed in both new and beached EPS collected in California, USA. In beached EPS, a variation in total PAH concentrations of up to 2 orders of magnitude was observed in the 337 to 11,800 ng/g-EPS range. Meanwhile, new EPS showed less variation in total PAH concentrations ranging from 282 to 1,194 ng/g-EPS. Most PAH species were shown to have higher concentrations in beached EPS than in new EPS, suggesting the ability of EPS to sorb PAHs from surrounding seawater. However, with anthracene, there was a significant depletion in beached EPS compared to new EPS. The fact that significant PAH concentrations were found in new unexposed EPS, including food packaging, highlights EPS as an exposure source of toxic chemicals to human food stocks upon migration, as well as to marine wildlife upon disposal. PAH concentrations and composition in new and beached EPS were consistent with those of samples from Japan, Malaysia and Australia, suggesting that the problems associated with EPS is a global issue.