Chinese scientists are testing for plastic fiber content in the Indian Ocean in a bid to track its sources and distribution as the scale of worldwide microplastics pollution has only begun to surface.
China's 49th Ocean Expedition Team on Tuesday took numerous samples to analyze for levels of plastic fibers from the southwest Indian Ocean.
The mission on Tuesday was one of the five planned surveys to be conducted in the area, said Ni Jianyu, leading scientist of the team.
It also marked the first time that China has conducted a microplastics survey in the region.
The studies will be instrumental in evaluating human influences on the environment as well as make up for a lack of data on microplastics levels for the region, Science and Technology Daily reported.
"We will pass on the samples to related institutions, where they will analyze for density, shape and makeup to determine the state of microplastics pollution and distribution in the ocean region," Zhou Yadong, a researcher with the expedition, told the daily.
Considered to be fibers or particles measuring 5 millimeters or smaller, microplastics have been detected in oceans, lakes and groundwater across the globe in recent years.
While the exact causes of the pollution are unknown, some scientists point to airborne fibers from numerous sources that then accumulate in rain, media reported.