Microplastic Prevalence in 4 Oregon Rivers Along a Rural to Urban Gradient Applying a Cost-Effective Validation Technique

Date of publication 29 June 2020

Authors Valine, Amy E.; Peterson, Ashley E.; Horn, Dorothy A.; Scully-Engelmeyer, Kaegan M.; Granek, Elise F.

Sources Environmental toxicology and chemistry :

DOILink https://doi.org/10.1002/etc.4755


Microplastics are ubiquitous in our environment and are found in rivers, streams, oceans, and even tap water. Riverine microplastics are relatively understudied compared with those in marine ecosystems. In Oregon (USA), we sampled 8 sites along 4 freshwater rivers spanning rural to urban areas to quantify microplastics. Plankton tow samples from sites along the Columbia, Willamette, Deschutes, and Rogue Rivers were analyzed using traditional light microscopy for initial microplastic counts. Application of Nile Red dye to validate microplastics improved microplastic identification, particularly for particles (Wilcox test; p = 0.001). Nile Red-corrected microfiber abundance was correlated with human population within 5 km of the sample site (R² = 0.554), although no such relationship was observed between microparticles and population (R² = 0.183). We found that plastics were present in all samples from all sites, despite the range from undeveloped, remote stretches of river in rural areas to metropolitan sites within Portland (OR, USA), demonstrating the pervasive presence of plastic pollution in freshwater ecosystems. Environ Toxicol Chem 2020;00:1-9. © 2020 SETAC.

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