Geographic Research (Geography 472 & 473)

Document Type

Student Paper

Publication Date

Winter 12-8-2019



Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement

The purpose of this study is to better understand how microplastics move through rivers. Microplastics can come from various sources, but the main characteristic of them is their size. These plastics have diameters between 10 nanometers and 5mm. Because these particles are easily confused with food sources, ingestion and bioaccumulation of microplastics in many aquatic organisms has been a hot topic for concern (Besseling et al, 2017; Liedermann et. al, 2018; Nel et. al, 2018; Siegfried et. al, 2017; Windsor et. al, 2019). Ingestion of these microplastics can be detrimental to both human and ecological health due to pathogen accumulation on plastic surfaces. Consumption of these plastics can lead to sickness, harm to bodily functions, and even death. Plastic debris has been documented in the intestines of many marine animals such as fish, turtles, shrimp, and shore birds. In addition to the marine environment, plastics have been documented in freshwater fish, insects, and invertebrates. (Bordós et. al, 2018; Nel et. al, 2018; Peng et. al, 2017; Rodrigues et. al, 2018; Windsor et. al, 2019). As evidence of these contaminants becomes more persistent in our environment, it is important to document and understand the way these microplastics are transported in waterways. This research explores the questions, “How do microplastic distributions differ upstream and downstream of wastewater treatment plants?” and, “How do microplastic concentrations vary among different sized streams?” In order to answer these questions, a research team collected one sample upstream and one sample downstream of seven different wastewater treatment discharge sites. These seven sites were on six different streams including Hickory Creek, Orion Creek, Crow Creek, Geneseo Creek, the Rock River and the Mississippi River.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Additional Files:

MAnderson_Poster Riv Action2019_JB.pdf (1321 kB)

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Geography Commons