Investigating the fate of microplastic particles in the Mohawk and Hudson watersheds, New York state

We are investigating whether microplastic particles (<1.0 mm in diameter) from personal-care products are reaching major waterways of eastern New York state. In 2013, samples of planktonic material were collected at 17 sites in the near-shore channels of the lower Mohawk River between Utica and Waterford, NY, and the upper Hudson River between Selkirk and Troy, NY. Samples were obtained by pouring ~150 to 250 gallons of river water through a stack of sieves (2.0, 1.0, 0.5, 0.25, 0.125, and 0.063 mm screens; material >1.0 mm was discarded). Samples are undergoing wet peroxide oxidation and transmitted-light and scanning electron microscope examination. Results to date indicate that microplastic particles are present in the planktonic sediment load, but in relatively low quantities. Notably, we have yet to find the spherical microplastic particles (“microbeads”) that are commonly associated with personal-care products. Instead, much of the plastic material we have recovered is in the form of fragments and fibers. (…)

Northeastern Section – 50th Annual Meeting (23–25 March 2015), Paper No. 13-4, SMITH, Jacqueline A., ERVOLINA, Emma, and BARRY, Bryan T., Physical & Biological Sciences, The College of Saint Rose, NY

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 47, No. 3, p.58

The abstract

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