Presentation Abstract

Microplastics are polymers < 5mm, varying in shape, color, chemical composition, and density. Manufactured plastics are primary microplastics which include pellets, fibers, and microbeads. Secondary microplastics are plastics fragmented through photodegradation and/or mechanical weathering. Research has documented microplastics in high densities (e.g., 100,000 items per m3) in marine environments, but little work has been conducted in riverine environments. Our study is focusing on the Puyallup River Watershed, located in Washington State, and its role in microplastic transport. The Puyallup River and its two principal tributaries, the White River and the Carbon River, drain a watershed of approximately 1,040 square miles and stream from several glaciers located on Mount Rainier, including the Puyallup Glacier. During our preliminary research, samples were collected monthly, both upstream and downstream of municipal wastewater treatment plants, from five cities in the lower reaches of the Puyallup River Watershed. Fibers, fragments, and foams were identified, characterized and quantified. Only 1-foam and 5-fragments were found, with the majority being fibers. The concentration of fibers, ranged from 0 to 204 fibers/L, with an average of 22-fibers/L in each sample collected. Results were statistically inconclusive to determine if wastewater treatment plants were a point source of plastic pollution to the Puyallup River Watershed, although more fiber numbers were located upstream than downstream at most sites.

Session Title

Microplastic Pollution: a Troubling, Yet Tractable, Conservation Priority in the Salish Sea

Keywords

Microfibers, Watershed, Wastewater treatment plants

Conference Track

SSE13: Plastics

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (Seattle, WA : 2018)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

SSE13-567

Start Date

5-4-2018 3:45 PM

End Date

5-4-2018 4:00 PM

Type of Presentation

Oral

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Geographic Coverage

Salish Sea (B.C. and Wash.)

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

Share

COinS
 
Apr 5th, 3:45 PM Apr 5th, 4:00 PM

Exploration of microplastics in the lower Puyallup River watershed

Microplastics are polymers < 5mm, varying in shape, color, chemical composition, and density. Manufactured plastics are primary microplastics which include pellets, fibers, and microbeads. Secondary microplastics are plastics fragmented through photodegradation and/or mechanical weathering. Research has documented microplastics in high densities (e.g., 100,000 items per m3) in marine environments, but little work has been conducted in riverine environments. Our study is focusing on the Puyallup River Watershed, located in Washington State, and its role in microplastic transport. The Puyallup River and its two principal tributaries, the White River and the Carbon River, drain a watershed of approximately 1,040 square miles and stream from several glaciers located on Mount Rainier, including the Puyallup Glacier. During our preliminary research, samples were collected monthly, both upstream and downstream of municipal wastewater treatment plants, from five cities in the lower reaches of the Puyallup River Watershed. Fibers, fragments, and foams were identified, characterized and quantified. Only 1-foam and 5-fragments were found, with the majority being fibers. The concentration of fibers, ranged from 0 to 204 fibers/L, with an average of 22-fibers/L in each sample collected. Results were statistically inconclusive to determine if wastewater treatment plants were a point source of plastic pollution to the Puyallup River Watershed, although more fiber numbers were located upstream than downstream at most sites.