Impact of Microplastic Fibers from the Degradation of Nonwoven Synthetic Textiles to the Magdalena River Water Column and River Sediments by the City of Neiva, Huila (Colombia)

Date of publication 29 June 2020

Authors Martínez Silva, Paula; Nanny, Mark A.

Sources Water : 12 (DocId: 4) 1210.



Magdalena River surface water and shoreline sediments were sampled for microplastic particles at three locations in the city of Neiva, Colombia: upstream, city center, and downstream of the raw wastewater outflow. The absence of an industrial and manufacturing sector in Neiva provided an opportunity to assess the impact of upstream agricultural practices, as well as municipal activities such as wastewater outflow and laundry washing, on the quantity, polymer composition, and morphology of microplastic particles produced per capita and entering a river system. Microplastic particle concentrations increased with downstream distance, with microfiber concentrations ranging from 0.097 to 0.135 fibers/L in the river water and 25.5 to 102.4 fibers/kg in shoreline sediment. Microplastic fragment concentrations were 0.013-0.028 fragments/L in surface water and 10.4-12.7 fragments/kg of sediment. Raman microscope and scanning electron microscopy identified the relative composition of the polymers comprising the microplastic particles was similar regardless of sampling site or whether the sample was collected from the surface water or shoreline sediments, with polypropylene and polyethylene comprising at least 75% of the total polymers in all samples. Average fiber widths of < 20 mu m in all but one sample, along with the lack of acrylic and polyester fibers used predominantly in woven synthetic textiles, indicated that the degradation of nonwoven synthetic textiles is the predominant origin of these microplastic fibers in the Magdalena River.

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