FACTS - Fluxes and Fate of Microplastics in Northern European Waters



Dr. Barbara Scholz-Böttcher
Research Group: Organic Geochemistry
Tel.: +49-441 798-5362
Fax: +49-441 798-3404

Prof. Dr. Oliver Wurl
Research Group: Processes and Sensing of Marine Interfaces
Tel.: +49-4421 944-228
Fax: +49-4421 944-140

Project Realization

Isabel Goßmann (M.Sc. Marine Environmental Science)


3 years (June 2020 - May 2023)



FACTS consists of an interdisciplinary consortium with 16 partners from different European countries.

FACTS - Fluxes and Fate of Microplastics in Northern European Waters

Microplastics (MP) are plastic particles, fibers or fragments smaller than 5 mm. The pathways of MP into the marine environment are diverse. Potential inputs include textile fibers from dust and sewage treatment plants, tire abrasion, packaging materials, and waste from marine industries such as aqua farms. In addition, large amounts of litter enter the environment through littering and mismanagement of waste (PlasticsEurope, 2020; Royle et al., 2019). Particle abrasion from marine coatings is also a significant contributor to marine microplastics.


Andras Kiss, https://jpi-oceans-facts.eu/

Main Objectives

The FACTS project aims to generate new knowledge on the sources, transport, occurrence and fate of MP in northern marine waters. For this purpose, different analytical, monitoring and modeling approaches are combined to describe the transport, sources and sinks of microplastics from the southern North Sea to the Arctic waters of the Barents Sea. FACTS analyzes and quantifies the horizontal and vertical transport of microplastics in the water column. Various sampling campaigns on research vessels, fishing vessels as well as from shore are conducted, plastic particle and plastic mass concentrations are determined and are implemented in oceanographic models. FACTS also addresses current analytical challenges required to detect and assess the input of nanoplastics and tire wear into the marine environment.

The proven analytical expertise of FACTS-ICBM is found in the detection of horizontal and vertical particle and mass concentrations of microplastics in water bodies, the sea surface layer (SML), sediments, sediment traps, and air samples within the respective work packages (Dibke et al., 2021; Fischer et al., 2019; Goßmann et al., 2021). This will be done by applying pyrolysis gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (Py-GC/MS) (Fischer & Scholz-Böttcher, 2017; Fischer & Scholz-Böttcher, 2019). In this context, studies on the interaction of microplastics with the SML and its influence on transport processes of microplastics in marine environments are also conducted and the potential of Py-GCMS to analyze nanoplastics in environmental samples is tested. FACTS-ICBM is also involved in the harmonization of study strategies and methods within the consortium.


Dibke, C., Fischer, M., & Scholz-Böttcher, B. M. (2021). Microplastic Mass Concentrations and Distribution in German Bight Waters by Pyrolysis–Gas Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry/Thermochemolysis Reveal Potential Impact of Marine Coatings: Do Ships Leave Skid Marks? Environmental Science & Technology, 55

(4), 2285–2295. doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c04522

Fischer, M., & Scholz-Böttcher, B. M. (2017). Simultaneous Trace Identification and Quantification of Common Types of Microplastics in Environmental Samples by Pyrolysis-Gas Chromatography−Mass Spectrometry. Environ. Sci. Technol., 51

(9), 5052–5060. doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.6b06362

Fischer, M., & Scholz-Böttcher, B. M. (2019). Microplastics analysis in environmental samples-recent pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry method improvements to increase the reliability of mass-related data. Anal. Methods, 11

(18), 2489–2497. doi.org/10.1039/c9ay00600a

Fischer, M., Goßmann, I., & Scholz-Böttcher, B. M. (2019). Fleur de Sel—An interregional monitor for microplastics mass load and composition in European coastal waters? J. Anal. Appl. Pyrolysis, 144

, 104711. doi.org/10.1016/j.jaap.2019.104711

Goßmann, I., Halbach, M., & Scholz-Böttcher, B. M. (2021). Car and truck tire wear particles in complex environmental samples – A quantitative comparison with “traditional” microplastic polymer mass loads. Science of The Total Environment, 773

, 145667. doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.145667

PlasticsEurope. (2020). Plastics - the Facts 2020.

Royle, J., Jack, B., Hogg, D., Elliott, T., & Bapasola, A. (2019). Plastic Drawdown: A new approach to identify and analyse optimal policy instruments to reduce plastic pollution in UK rivers and seas

. www.eunomia.co.uk/reports-tools/plastic-drawdown-policy-instruments-reduce-plastic-pollution/

(Changed: 2021-02-24)