• Characterization of Microplastics using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR)

      Garneau, Danielle; Ashline, Erin (2018)
      Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) is a spectroscopy technique widely used to analyze polymer profiles of particulate at a chemical level. The goal of this study was to assess the polymer composition of microplastics ingested by aquatic organisms from Lake Champlain. Preliminary results suggest fibers are the most prominent particle type in organisms (N = 482). Among these fibers, the most common plastic polymer was polyester [PET] (14.5%), followed by cellulose [20u ave particle size] (11.1%), alpha-cellulose [99.5% pure] (11.0%), and rayon (8.5%). Fragments were the second most prominent particle type (N = 168) and were commonly polyester [PET] (52%), followed by vinal (9%), polypropylene, isotactic (4%), and rayon (4%). Pellets (N = 14) were primarily vinylidene chlorine [200ppm mhdq] (14.2%) and polyethylene, chlorinated 36% chlorine (14.2%), followed by both vinal (7%), and cellulose nitrate (7%). Films (N = 11) were primarily rayon (27%), poly [methylmethacrylate] (27%), followed by poly [1,4-cyclohexanedimethylene terephthalate] (18%), and polypropylene, isotactic (9%). The least common polymer type found were foams (N = 10) comprised of polyethylene, chlorosulfonated (50%), polyethylene, chlorinated 36% chlorine (40%), and alzon [casein] (10%). Overall, polyester [PET] was more abundant as compared to other plastics and derives from synthetic clothing and food and beverage packaging.
    • Micro-plastic Bioaccumulation in Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens) of Lake Champlain

      Mason, Sherri; Garneau, Danielle; Moseman, Erin (2015)
      Micro-plastics are discharged into watersheds through wastewater treatment plant effluent and onward into waterbodies. Studies have shown that micro-plastics are bioaccumulating within aquatic organisms found in both fresh and salt water. Students at SUNY Fredonia are jointly working with SUNY Plattsburgh to identify and quantify micro-plastics from within fish digestive tracks from the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain. Dr. Sherri Mason's team at Fredonia has identified dark fibers as the most abundant micro-plastic in fish digestive tracts (> 85%), with yellow perch (Perca flavescens), being the most frequent species containng plastics (94.4%). SUNY Plattsburgh sampled eight yellow perch caught ice fishing in Monty's Bay, Lake Champlain. Digestive tract samples were digested in a wet-peroxide solution then left to dry for further examination. All fish sampled contained microfibers within their digestive tracts, 75% of individuals contained fibers present while 25% had foam-like plastics. These samples will be further examined by Dr. Sherri Mason's lab for further confirmation on type, color, and polymer. In the future SUNY Plattsburgh plans to examine micro-plastics in zooplankton and cormorants to represent a trophic dynamic bioaccumulation of micro-plastics in Lake Champlain.
    • Microplastic Bioaccumulation in invertebrates, fish, and cormorants in Lake Champlain

      Garneau, Danielle; Hammer, Chad; VanBrocklin, Hope (2016)
      It is estimated in the United States that 8 trillion microbeads enter our waterways daily. Microplastics are typically discharged into local watersheds through wastewater treatment plant effluent and marine debris, with as much as 1600 synthetic fibers emanating from washing a single piece of clothing. In this project, we assessed microplastic load within Dreissena polymorpha (zebra mussels), Gammarus fasciatus (amphipods), fish, and Phalacrocorax auritus (double-crested cormorants) digestive tracts. Specimens were processed using KOH bath, followed by wet peroxide oxidation digests. Bioaccumulated microplastics were characterized based on type (e.g., fragment, pellet/bead, fiber, film, foam) and size. Results suggest that the majority of microplastics combined for all organisms investigated were fibers (67%), fragments (19%), films (10%), and pellets/beads (4%). No microplastics were observed in zebra mussels. Amphipods contained fibers (50%), fragments (25%), and films (25%). Species-specific trends were observed among fish, specifically Osmerus mordax (rainbow smelt), Cottus cognatus (slimy sculpin), and Micropterus salmoides (large-mouth bass) are primarily consuming fibers. Bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus) and rainbow smelt were the only species to consume pellets/beads (40%) and films (16%), respectively. Double-crested cormorants contained primarily fibers (78%), as well as films (19%), with minor contributions of pellets/beads and foam. Spatial distribution of microplastic load was greater in rainbow smelt at the most northern and southern sampling sites on Lake Champlain. In freshwater systems, microplastics absorb chemical pollutants and release plasticizers (e.g., carcinogens, neurotoxins, endocrine disruptors) into tissues, with the potential for fitness consequences in wildlife and humans.
    • Survey of the Abundance and Distribution of Nurdles and Microplastics in Long-term Monitoring Zooplankton Samples from Lake Champlain

      Garneau, Danielle; Allen, Eileen; Hagar, Susan-Marie (2016)
      Microplastics are particles less than 5mm in size, characterized as fibers, fragments, beads,foams, and pellets. Microplastics arise from four main processes: environmental degradation(UV exposure, mechanical and/or biological), direct release by means of wastewatertreatment processing, unintentional loss of raw materials, and discharge of macerated wastes.Particulate polymers are identified as either lightweight (e.g., polypropylene andpolyethylene) or heavyweight (e.g., PET and PVC). Weight of the particulate dictates wherethey reside within the water column. The goal of this study was to quantify the abundanceand map the distribution of microplastics and nurdles, using long-term monitoringzooplankton samples from Lake Champlain. Microplastic sampling was conducted bysubsampling homogenized zooplankton samples (N=400) and were quantified usingextrapolation to larger sample volume. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) wasused to characterize nurdle polymer type as polyisoprene rubber ribbon. Nurdle distributionwas most abundant at 0-10m depth and at the southernmost end of Lake Champlain, in thevicinity of Whitehall and Ticonderoga, NY, historically associated with industry. Additionalnurdle hotspots occur in Shelburne and Missisquoi Bays located midway and at the northernreach of the lake. Microplastic abundance was greatest in the mid-section of the lake and atdepths of both 0-10m and 40-50m. Vertical particulate distribution is of greatest concern, assusceptible organisms are dispersed throughout the water column, with potential forbioaccumulation to higher tropic levels. Long-term microplastic impacts on Lake Champlaininclude intake for residential use, pathogenic and pollutant exposure during recreational use,as well as local economic impact via revenue loss associated with tourism and fisheries.