Micro-plastic Pollution: A Comparative Survey of Wastewater Effluent in New York
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Micro-plastics are hypothesized to be discharged into the waterways through wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent. Students from SUNY Fredonia, jointly with students from SUNY Plattsburgh, have conducted a survey of regional plastic pollution at WWTPs in Chautauqua County, NY (Dunkirk and Fredonia) and Clinton County, NY (Peru and Plattsburgh) to explore this hypothesis. Samples of wastewater treatment effluent were collected using sieve arrays and materials were analyzed in the lab for any suspect micro-plastics. The suspect micro-plastics were placed into sample containers for future analysis. Preliminary results of this survey suggest suspect particles were present and discharged at rates of 109,556, 81,911, and 1,061,953 particles per day from Plattsburgh, Fredonia, and Dunkirk, respectively. Continued monitoring and dissemination of micro-plastic results to sewer facilities, may result in mitigation to reduce the amount of plastic discharge. These micro-plastics have become ubiquitous freshwater and marine pollutants, that are negatively impacting survival and fitness of aquatic species. Technological improvements to older facilities are likely to reduce micro-plastic waste and harm to the ecosystem.
Student poster, Center for Earth and Environmental Science, SUNY Plattsburgh