Characterization of microplastics and anthropogenic fibers in surface waters of the North Saskatchewan River, Alberta, Canada
microplastic, freshwater, fibers, Raman spectroscopy, internal standard, Canada
Microplastics are globally ubiquitous contaminants, but quantitative data on their presence in freshwater environments are sparse. This study investigates the occurrence, composition, and spatial trends of microplastic contamination in the North Saskatchewan River flowing through Edmonton, Alberta, the fifth largest city in Canada. Surface water samples were collected from seven sites throughout the city, upstream and downstream of the city, and near potential point sources (i.e., a wastewater treatment plant). Samples were spiked with fluorescent microbeads as internal standards and extracted by wet peroxide oxidation and density floatation. Microplastics were found in all samples, ranging in concentration from 4.6 to 88.3 particles·m−3 (mean = 26.2 ± 18.4 particles·m−3). Fibers were the dominant morphology recovered, and most were of anthropogenic origin and chemically identified as dyed cotton or polyester by Raman microspectroscopy. The majority of fragments were identified as polyethylene or polypropylene. No upstream to downstream differences were found in concentration, size distribution, or morphological composition suggesting nonpoint sources of microplastics to the river. This study represents one of the first investigations into the occurrence of microplastics in the freshwater environment in western Canada and will provide a baseline for future studies.
Bujaczek, T., Kolter, S., Locky, D., Ross, M.S. (2021). Characterization of microplastics and anthropogenic fibers in surface waters of the North Saskatchewan River, Alberta, Canada. FACETS, 6, 26–43. https://doi.org/10.1139/facets-2020-0057
Attribution (CC BY)