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Mikroplastik in der aquatischen Umwelt

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Abstract

Etwa 10 % des jährlich produzierten Mikroplastiks gelangen in die aquatische Umwelt, akkumulieren sich dort und bergen eine Bedrohung für die Lebewesen. Doch was genau passiert eigentlich mit dem Mikroplastik, sobald es ins Wasser gelangt? Dieser Fragestellung wird nachgegangen, indem gemessene Konzentrationsmengen dargestellt sowie mögliche Transportwege aufgezeigt werden.

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Microplastic enters the environment in different ways and accumulates there due to the persistence of the material. For a long time, microplastic was exclusively considered and studied in the marine environment: From the first environmental studies, to ecotoxicological studies with marine organisms, to hydro-numeric models that were intended to describe the distribution of microplastic in the seas and oceans. However, studies have gradually concluded that most of the microplastic is discharged into the oceans by land and therefore by rivers, and the focus has widened to include the fluvial environment. Initially, rivers were considered to be only transport pathways for microplastic from the land-based sources to the open sea. However, it soon became clear that microplastic can also be retained and deposited in rivers and that the concentrations in the fluvial environment are as high asin some hot spots in the marine environment. Due to the limited knowledge about the transport behavior of microplastic in the aquatic environment, the basics of classical sediment transport were simply adapted to the properties of microplastic. However, whether this transfer is appropriate was not examined. The differences between microplastic and classic sediment are undeniable: While sediment has an average density of 2.65 kg/cm³, microplastic can be both lighter and heavier than water, but it is always significantly lighter than natural sediment. Moreover, microplastic has very variable shapes, so it can appear either as pellets or microbeads, but also as fragments, fibers or films. Sediment, on the other hand, consists mainly of granular grains. Finally, the different trends of mean grain diameters along the course of the river are also to be mentioned. While classical sediment is ground smaller and smaller along the course of the river, microplastic is introduced via numerous sources along the course, so that no trend in grain sizes can be formed. Based on these fundamentals, a transferability of the theoretical principles from sediment transport must therefore at least be questioned. Thus, in this thesis the behavior of microplastic is compared with the theoretical calculations from classical sediment transport by using physical model experiments. The transport process is herein divided up into erosion, sedimentation and rise as well as infiltration into the river bed. A special focus was layed on the effects of particle properties such as density, diameter and shape of the microplastic on the transport mechanisms. The sedimentation and rise behavior was examined by experiments in a sedimentation column and thus the terminal settling and rise velocities of different microplastic particles were determined. These velocities could not be represented sufficiently by the typical formulas from sediment transport (e.g. Stokes settling formula), so that new theoretical approaches based on the physical model experiments were determined. The erosion behavior was investigated in the annular flume of the IWW by applying single microplastic particles to different sediment beds and then slowly increasing the shear stress on the bottom of the channel until the particle started to move. Based on these experiments, the critical shear stresses of the different microplastic particles were determined as a function of their particle properties and the sediment bed and compared with the calculation methods from classical sediment transport, namely Shields diagram and hiding-exposure effect. In the comparison it became clear that microplastic moves earlier than determined by the theoretical approaches so that a greater mobility of the microplastic than previously thought is to be expected. Finally, new approaches were developed todescribe the erosion behavior of microplastic more accurately. For investigating the infiltration behavior of microplastic into the river bed, an infiltration column with glass spheres of different diameters (1.5 - 11 mm) was used, on which water was evenly sprinkled from above. Different microplastic particles were applied to the surface of the glass spheres and then their infiltration depth was determined as a function of their shape, density, and size and the grain size of the glass spheres. The subsequent comparison with the basic principles of fine sediment infiltration showed that these could be transferred so that on this basis the ideal sampling depth of fluvial sediment could be determined. This work therefore offers a first investigation of the transport mechanisms of microplastic in the fluvial environment. When examinating the transferability of theoretical principles from classical sediment transport to microplastic transport, it became clear that the application of these principles produces only insufficient results. Therefore, new approaches were developed, which can be used in the future for the simulation of the transport behavior of microplastic.
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Mikroplastik stellt eine ernst zu nehmende Belastung für die Meeresumwelt dar. Neben Quellen und Eigenschaften von Mikroplastikpartikeln werden ihre Auswirkungen auf Meeresorganismen sowie die Herausforderungen bei der Erforschung dieser Form der Umweltverschmutzung besprochen. Aufgrund der geringen Größe der synthetischen Partikel sind ihre Identifizierung und Quantifizierung in der Umwelt technologisch sehr anspruchsvoll. Das Verständnis der Wirkung von Mikroplastikpartikeln auf die Tiere und Pflanzen des Meeres ist ein Ziel aktueller Meeresforschung.
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Plastic debris is one of the most significant organic pollutants in the aquatic environment. Due to properties such as buoyancy and extreme durability, synthetic polymers are present in rivers, lakes and oceans and accumulate in sediments all over the world. However, freshwater sediments have attracted less attention than the investigation of sediments in marine ecosystems. For this reason, river shore sediments of the rivers Rhine and Main in the Rhine-Main area in Germany were analyzed. The sample locations comprised shore sediment of a large European river (Rhine) and a river characterized by industrial influence (Main) in areas with varying population sizes as well as sites in proximity to nature reserves. All sediments analyzed contained microplastic particles (<5mm) with mass fractions of up to 1 g kg-1 or 4000 particles kg-1 respectively. Analysis of the plastics by infrared spectroscopy showed a high abundance of polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene, which covered over 75% of all polymer types identified in the sediment. Short distance transport of plastic particles from the tributary to the main stream could be confirmed by the identification of pellets, which were separated from shore sediment samples of both rivers. This systematic study shows the emerging pollution of inland river sediments with microplastics and, as a consequence thereof, underlines the importance of rivers as transport vectors of microplastics into the ocean.
Article
Plastic contamination is an increasing environmental problem in marine systems where it has spread globally to even the most remote habitats. Plastic pieces in smaller size scales, microplastics (particles <5mm), have reached high densities (e.g., 100 000 items per m3) in waters and sediments, and are interacting with organisms and the environment in a variety of ways. Early investigations of freshwater systems suggest microplastic presence and interactions are equally as far reaching as are being observed in marine systems. Microplastics are being detected in freshwaters of Europe, North America, and Asia, and the first organismal studies are finding that freshwater fauna across a range of feeding guilds ingest microplastics.
Article
Recent research has documented microplastic particles (< 5 mm in diameter) in ocean habitats worldwide and in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Microplastic interacts with biota in these habitats, including microorganisms, raising concerns about its ecological effects. Rivers may transport microplastic to marine habitats and the Great Lakes, but data on microplastic in rivers is limited. In a highly urbanized river in Chicago, Illinois, USA, we measured concentrations of microplastic that met or exceeded those measured in oceans and the Great Lakes, and we demonstrated that wastewater treatment plant effluent was a point source of microplastic. Results from high-throughput sequencing showed that bacterial assemblages colonizing microplastic within the river were less diverse and were significantly different in taxonomic composition compared to those from the water column and suspended organic matter. Several taxa that include plastic decomposing organisms and pathogens were more abundant on microplastic. These results demonstrate that microplastic in rivers are a distinct microbial habitat and may be a novel vector for the downstream transport of unique bacterial assemblages. In addition, this study suggests that urban rivers are an overlooked and potentially significant component of the global microplastic life cycle.
Article
A comprehensive assessment of marine litter in three environmental compartments of Belgian coastal waters was performed. Abundance, weight and composition of marine debris, including microplastics, was assessed by performing beach, sea surface and seafloor monitoring campaigns during two consecutive years. Plastic items were the dominant type of macrodebris recorded: over 95% of debris present in the three sampled marine compartments were plastic. In general, concentrations of macrodebris were quite high. Especially the number of beached debris reached very high levels: on average 6429±6767 items per 100m were recorded. Microplastic concentrations were determined to assess overall abundance in the different marine compartments of the Belgian Continental Shelf. In terms of weight, macrodebris still dominates the pollution of beaches, but in the water column and in the seafloor microplastics appear to be of higher importance: here, microplastic weight is approximately 100 times and 400 times higher, respectively, than macrodebris weight.
Article
Neustonic microplastic and zooplankton abundance was determined in the North Western Mediterranean Sea during a summer cruise between July 9th and August 6th 2010, with a break between July 22 th and 25th due to a strong wind event. Ninety percent of the 40 stations contained microplastic particles (size 0.3-5mm) of various compositions: e.g., filaments, polystyrene, thin plastic films. An average concentration of 0.116 particles/m(2) was observed. The highest abundances (>0.36 particles/m(2)) were observed in shelf stations. The neustonic plastic particles concentrations were 5 times higher before than after the strong wind event which increased the mixing and the vertical repartition of plastic particles in the upper layers of the water column. The values rise in the same order of magnitude than in the North Pacific Gyre. The average ratio between microplastics and mesozooplankton weights was 0.5 for the whole survey and might induce a potential confusion for zooplankton feeders.
Article
Plastic debris <1 mm (defined here as microplastic) is accumulating in marine habitats. Ingestion of microplastic provides a potential pathway for the transfer of pollutants, monomers, and plastic-additives to organisms with uncertain consequences for their health. Here, we show that microplastic contaminates the shorelines at 18 sites worldwide representing six continents from the poles to the equator, with more material in densely populated areas, but no clear relationship between the abundance of miocroplastics and the mean size-distribution of natural particulates. An important source of microplastic appears to be through sewage contaminated by fibers from washing clothes. Forensic evaluation of microplastic from sediments showed that the proportions of polyester and acrylic fibers used in clothing resembled those found in habitats that receive sewage-discharges and sewage-effluent itself. Experiments sampling wastewater from domestic washing machines demonstrated that a single garment can produce >1900 fibers per wash. This suggests that a large proportion of microplastic fibers found in the marine environment may be derived from sewage as a consequence of washing of clothes. As the human population grows and people use more synthetic textiles, contamination of habitats and animals by microplastic is likely to increase.
Pacific Garbage Screening
  • Marcella Hansch
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Plastic Pollution in the World's Oceans: More than 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250
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Eriksen, Marcus; Lebreton, Laurent C. M.; Carson, Henry S.; Thiel, Martin; Moore, Charles J.; Borerro, Jose C. et al. (2014): Plastic Pollution in the World's Oceans: More than 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250,000 Tons Afloat at Sea. In: PloS one 9 (12), e111913. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111913.
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Kowalski, N.; Reichardt, A. M.; Glockzin, M.; Oberbeckmann, S.; Waniek, J. J. (2016): Sinking Behavior of Microplastics. In: Juan Baztan (Hg.): Fate and impact of microplastics in marine ecosystems. [Place of publication not identified]: ELSEVIER, S. 132-133
RWTH Lehrstuhl und Institut für Wasserbau und Wasserwirtschaft, RWTH Aachen University Mies-van-der-Rohe-Str. 17 52056 Aachen E-Mail: waldschlaeger@iww.rwth-aachen
  • M Autorin Kryss Waldschläger
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Autorin Kryss Waldschläger, M.Sc. RWTH Lehrstuhl und Institut für Wasserbau und Wasserwirtschaft, RWTH Aachen University Mies-van-der-Rohe-Str. 17 52056 Aachen E-Mail: waldschlaeger@iww.rwth-aachen.de
A Comparison of Plastic and Plankton in the North Pacific Central Gyre
  • S Weisberg
Weisberg, S.B (2001): A Comparison of Plastic and Plankton in the North Pacific Central Gyre. In: Marine pollution bulletin 42 (12), S. 1297-1300. DOI: 10.1016/S0025-326X(01)00114-X.
Sources, fate and effects of microplastics in the marine environment: a global assessment
  • GESAMP
GESAMP (2015): Sources, fate and effects of microplastics in the marine environment: a global assessment. Rep. Stud. GESAMP No. 90. Unter Mitarbeit von (IMO/FAO/UNESCO-IOC/UNIDO/WMO/IAEA/UN/ UNEP/UNDP Joint Group of Experts on. Hg. v. P. ed.J. Kershaw.