Microplastics pose a threat to coastal environments due to their capacity to adsorb persistent organic pollutants (POPs). These particles (less than 5 mm in size) are potentially dangerous to marine species due to magnification risk over the food chain. Samples were collected from two Portuguese beaches and sorted in four classes to relate the adsorption capacity of pollutants with color and age. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and DDTs were analysed on pellets through gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS), and types of plastic were identified using Fourier transformed infra-red spectroscopy (micro-FTIR). Microplastics were mostly polyethylene and polypropylene. Regarding sizes, some fibres ranged from 1 to 5 mu M in diameter and were 500 mu m in length. The majority of samples collected had sizes above 200 mu m. Black pellets, unlike aged pellets, had the highest concentrations of POPs except for PAHs in Fonte da Telha beach. PAHs with higher concentrations were pyrene, phenantrene, chrysene and fluoranthene. Higher concentrations of PCBs were found for congeners 18, 31, 138 and 187. Further investigation is necessary to understand the relationship between plastic degradation and adsorption for different pollutants. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.