DS01 - Gestion sobre des ressources et adaptation au changement climatique

nanoParticlEs of Plastics in the environment: Source, prediction and impact – PEPSEA

Submission summary

The main objective of the project is to determine the life-cycle of micro- and nano-plastics (MNP) in the watershed area, to understand their fragmentation pattern and to investigate the first impact of the whole size distribution of plastics litter. In the sampling campaign in the North Atlantic Ocean - NOA (Expedition 7th Continent) realized in 2014 and 2015, we were the first to develop an analytical strategy for demonstrating the presence of nanoscale (colloidal) plastics mainly made of polyethylene in the NOA for the first time. Based on these unprecedented results, several questions raise: What are the mechanisms of nano-plastics formation? Are the nanoplastics formed in the ocean or before in the watershed area? Where the other plastics at the micro and nanoscale are located? We found only PE and PS trace at the micro and nanoscale in the NOA. Where are the other polymers? Where do the Nano-plastics come from in the coastal zone? Rapidly, based on recent expedition and missions, we identified the watershed area as the principal zone susceptible to play a key role in the MNP environmental fate and impact. For these reasons and due to the total absence of available data in literature, we decided to focus the PEPSEA proposal on this novel consideration. From all the watershed areas and based on our previous mission and investigation in Guadeloupe (French Caribbean Island), we focused PEPSEA project on the Mangrove swamp system. Mangroves are present along a high fraction of tropical and subtropical coastlines. These systems play a crucial ecological role providing shelters and food resources for many species. Mangroves are also directly endangered by human activities. Plastics are susceptible to be captured in this environment due to the structure of Mangrove tree roots physically reducing circulation of water. In Guadeloupe, two Mangrove swamps were identified, the first one directly exposed to the landfill of the island (Décharge de la Gabarre) and the second one located at Le Moule, on the east coast of the island, which is directly influenced by the current from both the NOA and the gyre. These two systems offer the opportunity to directly monitor the impact of the MNPs waste on the Mangrove system and also discriminate the influence of terrestrial activities on the incoming MNPs compared to the flux of MNPs from the principal oceanic gyre. This study is complementary to existing project working on the presence and environmental fate of MNPs in the oceanic system. PEPSEA is an interdisciplinary research project on the plastic debris in the watershed area. It involves the participation of five different partners in the consortium that successfully work together in trust on the plastic presence and contamination thematic since 2014. Compare to all the major projects funded these last year through the principal governmental national agency and focusing on Plastic debris in environmental system, we propose a totally novel approach based on our expertise and our recent expeditions.

Project coordinator

Géosciences Rennes (Laboratoire public)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


Laboratoire des Interactions Moléculaires et Réactivité Chimique et Photochimique (CNRS)
Environnement et Paléo-Environnement Océaniques et Continentaux
Evolution Paris Seine
Géosciences Rennes
Institut des Sciences Analytiques et de Physico-chimie pour l'Environnement et les Matériaux

Help of the ANR 422,226 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2017 - 42 Months

Useful links