Distribution and risk assessment of microplastic pollution in a rural river system near a wastewater treatment plant, hydro-dam, and river confluence

Research published in the journal Scientific Reports discusses the ways microplastics enter riverine systems. The study focuses on the rural Raquette River, in New York, and evaluates distinct locations where microplastic may enter the river. The highest microplastic concentrations were found mostly downstream of a wastewater treatment plant, upstream of the hydro-dam, and in the river confluence.

Abstract: Rivers are the natural drainage system, transporting anthropogenic wastes and pollution, including microplastics (plastic < 5 mm). In a riverine system, microplastics can enter from different sources, and have spatial variance in concentration, physical and chemical properties, and imposed risk to the ecosystem. This pilot study presents an examination of microplastics in water and sediment samples using a single sample collection from the rural Raquette River, NY to evaluate a hypothesis that distinct locations of the river, such as downstream of a wastewater treatment plant, upstream of a hydro-dam, and river confluence, may be locations of higher microplastics concentration. In general, our results revealed the presence of high microplastic concentrations downstream of the wastewater treatment plant (in sediments), upstream of the hydro dam (both water and sediment), and in the river confluence (water sample), compared to other study sites. Moreover, the risk assessment indicates that even in a rural river with most of its drainage basin comprising forested and agricultural land, water, and sediment samples at all three locations are polluted with microplastics (pollution load index, PLI > 1; PLIzone = 1.87 and 1.68 for water and sediment samples respectively), with risk categories between Levels I and IV (“minor” to “danger”). Overall, the river stands in a “considerable” risk category (PRIzone = 134 and 113 for water and sediment samples respectively). The overall objective of this pilot study was to evaluate our hypothesis and advance our understanding of microplastic dynamics in rural river systems, elucidating their introduction from a point source (wastewater treatment plant), transit through an impediment (hydro-dam), and release into a vital transboundary river (confluence of Raquette-St. Lawrence Rivers).

In a scientific statement, the American Heart Association lays out its concerns about the adverse health consequences caused by exposures to environmental toxicants and pollutants, and cardiovascular diseases in young people. The article provides evidence that connects climate change and congenital heart disease, airborne pollution and Kawasaki disease, blood lead and blood pressure, endocrine-disrupting chemicals and cardiometabolic risk factors, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, and other sources of pollution to adverse childhood health effects, especially relating to heart health.

The results of this Greenpeace survey demonstrate that there is overwhelming public support for the Global Plastics Treaty to cut plastic production, end single-use plastics and advance reuse-based solutions. Conducted in 19 countries with over 19,000 respondents, the survey shows strong support for cutting the production of plastic, at over 8 in 10 people (82%1), and for protecting biodiversity and the climate by cutting plastics production (at 80%1). As many as 9 out of 10 people (90%2) support a transition away from single-use plastic packaging to reusable and refillable packaging, while 75%1 support a ban on single-use plastic. Likewise, 80% of people are concerned3 about the impacts of plastic on the health of their loved ones and 84% of parents are concerned about these impacts on the health of their children.

The high level of support for ambitious action on plastics is similar across all the countries surveyed, but particularly strong in most of the Global South countries where plastic pollution levels are higher. Support for all the statements was well above 50%, with the lowest percentage still at 60%1, in support of a statement that lobbyists from the fossil fuel industry and chemical industries should not be allowed to take part in negotiations, for the Global Plastics Treaty to be successful.

The overwhelming show of public support sends a strong message to the Governments negotiating the Global Plastics Treaty—the public expects political leaders to address pollution from the full life cycle of plastics, by cutting plastic production and banning single-use plastics. A failure to do so will carry political consequences.

  1. ‘Strongly agree’ and ‘Somewhat agree’ responses combined
  2. ‘Essential’, ‘Very important’, and ‘Fairly important’ responses combined
  3. ‘Very concerned’ and ‘Somewhat concerned’ responses combined

Scientists find that interlocking and dismantling popular plastic toy building bricks generate microplastics and nanoplastics. These plastic fragments may pose a health risk to children who play with the bricks.

Abstract: Microplastics and nanoplastics have become noteworthy contaminants, affecting not only outdoor ecosystems but also making a notable impact within indoor environments. The release of microplastics and nanoplastics from commonly used plastic items remains a concern, and the characterisation of these contaminants is still challenging. This study focused on evaluating the microplastics and nanoplastics produced from plastic building bricks. Using Raman spectroscopy and correlation analysis, the plastic material used to manufacture building blocks was determined to be either acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (correlation value of 0.77) or polycarbonate (correlation value of 0.96). A principal component analysis (PCA) algorithm was optimised for improved detection of the debris particles released. Some challenges in microplastic analysis, such as the interference from the colourants in the building block materials, was explored and discussed. Combining Raman results with scanning electron microscopy – energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, we found the scratches on the building blocks to be a significant source of contamination, estimated several thousand microplastics and several hundred thousand nanoplastics were generated per mm2 following simulated play activities. The potential exposure to microplastics and nanoplastics during play poses risks associated with the ingestion and inhalation of these minute plastic particles.

A site known as Fencelinedata.org shifts the balance of power from chemical producers to journalist, community members, and advocates that can hold them accountable.

This tool, a project of DataKind, Until Justice Data Partners, Material Research L3C, and Public Health Watch, represents a major advance in data accessibility: It makes multiple federal databases available in one place, allowing users to avoid government websites that can be difficult to navigate and interpret.

Find out which companies in your neighborhood are polluting and what harmful chemicals they are releasing into the environment. FencelineData.org provides facility-level information about environmental violations and toxic-chemical and greenhouse-gas pollution from tens of thousands of facilities that report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In an effort for industries to mitigate their contributions to climate change, the U.S. federal government has funded the development of a expensive and controversial technology to make doing so economically viable. But how viable, and safe, is this technology really?

The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) has gathered evidence to comprehensively educate both the public and decision-makers about the risks associated with this technology, known as Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration (CCS). With CCS, corporations emitting carbon dioxide capture, transport, and inject carbon underground, to store or use for industrial purposes. However, there are many risks associated with CCS that far outweigh the perceived benefits.

EIP has collected data on existing and proposed carbon dioxide pipelines in the USA, as well as information on abandoned oil and gas wells, and risk of carbon dioxide leaks. Its map overlays this information with community-level data, such as population, indications of tribal lands and other demographic information, and more.