Paper No. 134-15
Presentation Time: 11:45 AM
CHARACTERIZATION AND FATE OF MICROPLASTICS AS EMERGING CONTAMINANTS IN PHILADELPHIA’S FRESHWATER SYSTEMS
Plastic is one of the most widely used materials in our world today. It has permeated nearly every part of human life with little governance, and we are just starting to learn about its impact on the health of our global environment, from soil to water to air. Microplastics (MPs) are emerging contaminants known to have the potential to cause harm to ecosystems, aquatic life, and human health. While MPs, defined as particles <5mm in diameter, have been widely researched in marine environments, exploration in freshwater is lacking. Providing a foundational knowledge of MP is essential to the advancement of plastic pollution research aimed at understanding their origin, transport, fate, and effects. In order to improve our knowledge of these processes, we first need to develop techniques that allow for systematic sampling and detailed characterization of MPs as well as quantification of the different MP types that occur in the environment. Our research aims to investigate sampling and analytical methodology to report on MP contamination in Philadelphia. To achieve this, we use a novel sampling device for MP collection in the freshwater environments of the town, including the Delaware and the Schuykill Rivers. Once collected, the MPs are investigated by microscopic and spectroscopic techniques, such as SEM-EDX and FTIR. Through the usage of a novel sampling method and a multi-analytical approach, this research contributes to standardizing MP methodology. As we improve our approach to addressing MPs in freshwater environments, we will gain foundational understanding of these contaminants which is essential to determining their human and environmental health implications. This presentation will report on the sampling and characterization techniques and convey preliminary results regarding the concentrations, types, morphology, and elemental composition of Philadelphia’s freshwater MPs.