Microplastics are present in marine habitats worldwide and laboratory studies show this material can be ingested, yet data on abundance in natural populations is limited. This study documents microplastics in 10 species of fish from the English Channel. 504 Fish were examined and plastics found in the gastrointestinal tracts of 36.5%. All five pelagic species and all five demersal species had ingested plastic. Of the 184 fish that had ingested plastic the average number of pieces per fish was 1.90±0.10. A total of 351 pieces of plastic were identified using FT-IR Spectroscopy; polyamide (35.6%) and the semi-synthetic cellulosic material, rayon (57.8%) were most common. There was no significant difference between the abundance of plastic ingested by pelagic and demersal fish. Hence, microplastic ingestion appears to be common, in relatively small quantities, across a range of fish species irrespective of feeding habitat. Further work is needed to establish the potential consequences.
Chronic low-frequency anthropogenic sound, such as shipping noise, may be negatively affecting marine life. The EU’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) includes a specific indicator focused on this noise. This indicator is the yearly average sound level in third-octave bands with centre frequencies at 63Hz and 125Hz. These levels are described for Falmouth Bay, UK, an active port at the entrance to the English Channel. Underwater sound was recorded for 30min h(-1) over the period June 2012 to November 2013 for a total of 435days. Mean third-octave levels were louder in the 125-Hz band (annual mean level of 96.0dB re 1μPa) than in the 63-Hz band (92.6dB re 1 μPa). These levels and variations are assessed as a function of seasons, shipping activity and wave height, providing comparison points for future monitoring activities, including the MSFD and emerging international regulation.
Private water supplies (PWS) in Cornwall, South West England exceeded the current WHO guidance value and UK prescribed concentration or value (PCV) for arsenic of 10 μg/L in 5% of properties surveyed (n = 497). In this follow-up study, the first of its kind in the UK, volunteers (n = 207) from 127 households who used their PWS for drinking, provided urine and drinking water samples for total As determination by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and urinary As speciation by high performance liquid chromatography ICP-MS (HPLC-ICP-MS). Arsenic concentrations exceeding 10 μg/L were found in the PWS of 10% of the volunteers. Unadjusted total urinary As concentrations were poorly correlated (Spearman’s ρ = 0.36 (P < 0.001)) with PWS As largely due to the use of spot urine samples and the dominance of arsenobetaine (AB) from seafood sources. However, the osmolality adjusted sum, U-As(IMM), of urinary inorganic As species, arsenite (As(III)) and arsenate (As(V)), and their metabolites, methylarsonate (MA) and dimethylarsinate (DMA), was found to strongly correlate (Spearman's ρ: 0.62 (P < 0.001)) with PWS As, indicating private water supplies as the dominant source of inorganic As exposure in the study population of PWS users.
Dry weight concentrations of lead in paints on a variety of structures in the urban and suburban environs of a British city (Plymouth, south west England) were determined in situ and ex situ by field-portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry. Lead was detected in 221 out of 272 analyses, with overall median and mean concentrations of 4180μgg(-1) and 29,300μgg(-1), respectively, and a maximum concentration of 390,000μgg(-1). Highest concentrations were observed in extant paints on poorly maintained, metallic structures, including railings, gates, telephone kiosks and bridges, in various yellow road line paints, and in paints of varying condition on public playground facilities (ramps, climbing frames, monkey bars). Occupants of households in the vicinity of structures that are shedding leaded paint are at potential risk of exposure from paint particles being tracked in on shoes and clothing while children in contact with leaded paints in playgrounds and recreational areas are at potential risk from the direct ingestion of paint flakes. Since the issues highlighted in the present study are neither likely to be restricted to this city, nor to the UK, a greater, general awareness and understanding of the sources and routes of exposure of exterior leaded paint is called for.
Marine litter and its accumulation on beaches is an issue of major current concern due to its significant environmental and economic impacts. Yet our understanding of spatio-temporal trends in beach litter and the drivers of these trends are currently limited by the availability of robust long term data sets. Here we present a unique data set collected systematically once a month, every month over a six year period for nine beaches along the North Coast of Cornwall, U.K. to investigate the key drivers of beach litter in the Bude, Padstow and Porthcothan areas. Overall, an average of 0.02 litter items m(-2) per month were collected during the six year study, with Bude beaches (Summerleaze, Crooklets and Widemouth) the most impacted (0.03 ± 0.004 litter items m(-2) per month). The amount of litter collected each month decreased by 18% and 71% respectively for Padstow (Polzeath, Trevone and Harlyn) and Bude areas over the 6 years, possibly related to the regular cleaning, however litter increased by 120% despite this monthly cleaning effort on the Padstow area beaches. Importantly, at all nine beaches the litter was dominated by small, fragmented plastic pieces and rope fibres, which account for 32% and 17% of all litter items collected, respectively. The weathered nature of these plastics indicates they have been in the marine environment for an extended period of time. So, whilst classifying the original source of these plastics is not possible, it can be concluded they are not the result of recent public littering. This data highlights both the extent of the marine litter problem and that current efforts to reduce littering by beach users will only tackle a fraction of this litter. Such information is vital for developing effective management strategies for beach and marine litter at both regional and global levels.
River water temperature is a hydrological feature primarily controlled by topographical, meteorological, climatological, and anthropogenic factors. For Britain, the study of freshwater temperatures has focussed mainly on observations made in England and Wales; similar comprehensive data sets for Scotland are currently unavailable. Here we present a model for the whole of mainland Britain over three recent decades (1982-2011) that incorporates geographical extrapolation to Scotland. The model estimates daily mean freshwater temperature for every river segment and for any day in the studied period, based upon physico-geographical features, daily mean air and sea temperatures, and available freshwater temperature measurements. We also extrapolate the model temporally to predict future warming of Britain’s rivers given current observed trends. Our results highlight the spatial and temporal diversity of British freshwater temperatures and warming rates. Over the studied period, Britain’s rivers had a mean temperature of 9.84°C and experienced a mean warming of +0.22°C per decade, with lower rates for segments near lakes and in coastal regions. Model results indicate April as the fastest-warming month (+0.63°C per decade on average), and show that most rivers spend on average ever more days of the year at temperatures exceeding 10°C, a critical threshold for several fish pathogens. Our results also identify exceptional warming in parts of the Scottish Highlands (in April and September) and pervasive cooling episodes, in December throughout Britain and in July in the southwest of England (in Wales, Cornwall, Devon, and Dorset). This regional heterogeneity in rates of change has ramifications for current and future water quality, aquatic ecosystems, as well as for the spread of waterborne diseases.
The English Channel is one of the world’s busiest sea areas with intense shipping and port activity juxtaposed with recreation, communications and important conservation areas. Opportunities for marine renewable energy vie with existing activities for space. The current governance of the English Channel is reviewed and found to lack integration between countries, sectors, legislation and scientific research. Recent developments within the EU’s marine management frameworks are significantly altering our approach to marine governance and this paper explores the implications of these new approaches to management of the English Channel. Existing mechanisms for cross-Channel science and potential benefits of an English Channel scale perspective are considered. In conclusion, current management practices are considered against the 12 Malawi Principles of the ecosystem approach resulting in proposals for enhancing governance of the region through science at the scale of the English Channel.
The longer term impact of flooding on health is poorly understood. In 2015, following widespread flooding in the UK during winter 2013/14, Public Health England launched the English National Study of Flooding and Health. The study identified a higher prevalence of probable psychological morbidity one year after exposure to flooding. We now report findings after two years.
Dust elemental levels can be expressed as concentrations (bulk samples) or surface loadings (wipe samples). Wipe sampling has not been widely adopted for elements other than lead (Pb). In this study, 433 wipe samples from 130 households in south west England - a region of widespread, natural and anthropogenic arsenic contamination linked with previous mining activities-were analysed to (i) quantify loadings of arsenic (As); (ii) assess the quality of wipe data using QA/QC criteria; (iii) estimate, using published ingestion rates, human exposure to As in dust using loadings and concentrations from 97 bulk samples and (iv) comparatively assess the performance of wipe and bulk sampling using associations with As biomonitoring data (urine, toenails and hair). Good QC performance was observed for wipes: strong agreement between field duplicates, non-detectable contamination of field blank wipes and good reference material recoveries. Arsenic loadings exceeded an existing urban background benchmark in 67 (52%) households. No exceedances of tolerable daily As intake were observed for adult exposure estimates but infant estimates exceeded for 1 household. Infant estimates calculated using bulk concentrations resulted in 4 (3%) exceedances. Neither wipe nor bulk As metrics were sufficiently better predictors of As in biospecimens. Sampling strategies, analytical protocols, exposure metrics and assessment criteria require refinement to validate dust sampling methodologies.
Recent climate change has had a major impact on biodiversity and has altered the geographical distribution of vascular plant species. This trend is visible globally; however, more local and regional scale research is needed to improve understanding of the patterns of change and to develop appropriate conservation strategies that can minimise cultural, health, and economic losses at finer scales. Here we describe a method to manually geo-reference botanical records from a historical herbarium to track changes in the geographical distributions of plant species in West Cornwall (South West England) using both historical (pre-1900) and contemporary (post-1900) distribution records. We also assess the use of Ellenberg and climate indicator values as markers of responses to climate and environmental change. Using these techniques we detect a loss in 19 plant species, with 6 species losing more than 50% of their previous range. Statistical analysis showed that Ellenberg (light, moisture, nitrogen) and climate indicator values (mean January temperature, mean July temperature and mean precipitation) could be used as environmental change indicators. Significantly higher percentages of area lost were detected in species with lower January temperatures, July temperatures, light, and nitrogen values, as well as higher annual precipitation and moisture values. This study highlights the importance of historical records in examining the changes in plant species' geographical distributions. We present a method for manual geo-referencing of such records, and demonstrate how using Ellenberg and climate indicator values as environmental and climate change indicators can contribute towards directing appropriate conservation strategies.