Microplastics and other anthropogenic particles in the surface waters of the Chesapeake Bay

Date of publication 29 June 2020

Authors Bikker, J.; Lawson, J.; Wilson, S.; Rochman, C. M.

Sources Marine pollution bulletin : 156, 111257.

DOILink https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2020.111257


Microplastics are a ubiquitous environmental contaminant whose distributions have been correlated with land-use and population density. Although there are numerous studies quantifying microplastics in the environment, local studies help inform sources, pathways, and policy. Here, we measure the concentration of microplastics in the surface waters across the Chesapeake Bay – the largest estuary in the USA. Thirty surface water samples from throughout the Chesapeake Bay were collected with a manta trawl. Samples were manually processed for microplastics and other anthropogenic particles. Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) was used to determine the chemical composition of the particles. Higher concentrations were found near major cities and where larger rivers or tributaries met the Chesapeake Bay. Fragments, films, and fibres were the most common morphologies found, and polyethylene and polypropylene were the most common plastic types. These results can be used to inform mitigation strategies for microplastic pollution in the Chesapeake Bay region.

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