An innovative approach for the simultaneous quantitative screening of organic plastic additives in complex matrices in marine coastal areas


Aiming the simultaneous determination of widely used organic plastic additives in complex marine matrices, this work proposes a fast and “green” analytical protocol based on quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe (QuEChERS) technology. The validation of this innovative method on real matrices (i.e., sediments, mussel, fish, and Posidonia oceanica) indicated a general good performance in all of them for phthalate esters (PAEs), with low blank levels and average method recoveries varying from 54 ± 11 to 71 ± 12%. The best method performance for organophosphate ester (OPE) flame retardants and plasticizers was in biotic matrices (recoveries 52 ± 31 to 86 ± 38%). This application represents an innovative QuEChERS sequence of two dispersive solid-phase extraction (SPE) steps enabling this approach for the determination of important families of organic plastic additives in the marine environment. Indeed, our method allowed the fast screening and simultaneous determination of OPE and PAEs in various sites and matrices subject to different anthropogenic pressure in coastal NW Mediterranean Sea for the first time. ∑7PAE and ∑9OPE concentrations of 19–83 and 27–116 ng g−1 dw (fish), of 80–714 and 42–71 ng g−1 dw (mussels), of 192–908 and 47–151 ng g−1 dw (Posidonia oceanica), and of 11–328 and 4–10 ng g−1 dw (sediment) were measured, respectively. Our approach was sensible enough as to detect differences in the (bio)accumulation patterns of the target compounds in various species and/or sites. This application opens new perspectives for environmentally friendly marine environment monitoring and screening campaigns for organic plastic additives.

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The authors wish to thank Sandrine Ruitton and Melanie Ourgaud for providing the Posidonia oceanica samples, Daniela Banaru for the fish samples, and Etien Castro for the wild mussel samples. Richard Sempéré is acknowledged for giving access to the analytical facilities necessary to develop this research.


This work was financially supported by the Labex OT-Med - Project ECoMarE (ANR-11-LABX-0061), funded by the French Government “Investissements d’Avenir” (ANR) through the A*MIDEX project (no. ANR-11-IDEX-0001-02). Other financial support includes (i) French Water Agency trough the project CAREMED; (ii) Project UID/EQU/00511/2019 - Laboratory for Process Engineering, Environment, Biotechnology and Energy – LEPABE funded by national funds through FCT/MCTES (PIDDAC); (iii) Project “LEPABE-2-ECO-INNOVATION” – NORTE-01-0145-FEDER-000005, funded by Norte Portugal Regional Operational Programme (NORTE 2020), under PORTUGAL 2020 Partnership Agreement, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF); (iv) Investigator FCT contract IF/01101/2014 (Nuno Ratola). The project leading to this publication has received funding from European FEDER Fund under project 1166-39417.

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Castro-Jiménez, J., Ratola, N. An innovative approach for the simultaneous quantitative screening of organic plastic additives in complex matrices in marine coastal areas. Environ Sci Pollut Res 27, 11450–11457 (2020).

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  • Organophosphate esters
  • Phthalates
  • QuEChERS
  • Marine vegetation
  • Biota
  • Sediments