The Open UniversitySkip to content

Degradation of Common Polymer Ropes in a Sublittoral Marine Environment

Welden, Natalie A. and Cowie, Phillip R. (2017). Degradation of Common Polymer Ropes in a Sublittoral Marine Environment. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 118(1-2) pp. 248–253.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


Contamination by microplastic particles and fibres has been observed in sediment and animals sampled from the Firth of Clyde, West Scotland. In addition to microplastics released during clothes washing, a probable source is polymer ropes in abandoned, lost and discarded fishing and recreational sailing gear. The fragmentation of polypropylene, polyethylene, and nylon exposed to benthic conditions at 10 m depth over 12 months was monitored using changes in weight and tensile properties. Water temperature and light levels were continuously monitored. The degree of biofouling was measured using chlorophyll a, the weight of attached macroalgae, and colonising fauna. Results indicate microplastic fibres and particles may be formed in benthic environments despite reduced photodegradation. Polypropylene, Nylon, and polyethylene lost an average of 0.39%, 1.02%, and 0.45% of their mass per month respectively. Microscope images of the rope surface revealed notable surface roughening believed to be caused by abrasion by substrate and the action of fouling organisms.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2017 Elsevier Ltd.
ISSN: 1879-3363
Keywords: Microplastic; Microfibre; Marine pollution; Biofouling; Tensile strength; Fragmentation
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Engineering and Innovation
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Item ID: 48837
Depositing User: Natalie Welden
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2017 11:54
Last Modified: 02 May 2018 14:27
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU