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Microplastics in Freshwater Ecosystems


Microplastics have been found in nearly all types of freshwater environments, including remote lakes and rivers. Although all types of microplastics have been reported in freshwater ecosystems, microfibers are typically the most common microplastic type, often accounting for more than 80% of all the plastic fragments recovered. Understanding of the sources, movement, and fate of microplastics in freshwater ecosystems is still an active area of research; however, wastewater treatment plants and stormwater runoff appear to be important conduits of microplastics to lakes and rivers. More research is required to determine the role of atmospheric fallout in loading microplastics to freshwater ecosystems. Field and laboratory techniques for sampling microplastics in freshwater environments closely follow protocols for marine systems, although the lower density of freshwater compared to salt water can alter results if certain plastic polymers sink in freshwater compared to salt water. Further research is required to increase our understanding of the sources, movement, and fate of microplastic in aquatic ecosystems and the potential impacts of microplastics on freshwater organisms. This research will greatly increase our understanding of the role of freshwaters in the global plastic cycle.

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Correspondence to Jesse C. Vermaire .

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Forrest, S.A., Bourdages, M.P.T., Vermaire, J.C. (2020). Microplastics in Freshwater Ecosystems. In: Rocha-Santos, T., Costa, M., Mouneyrac, C. (eds) Handbook of Microplastics in the Environment. Springer, Cham.

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