• 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.
    • Microplastic Biomagnification in Invertebrates, Fish, and Cormorants in Lake Champlain

      Garneau, Danielle; Stewart, James; Walrath, Joshua; Putnam, Alex; Hammer, Chad; VanBrocklin, Hope; Buksa, Brandon; Clune, Alexis (2018)
      The goal of this research was to determine whether microplastics (MP) are uptaken by invertebrates, fish, and Phalacrocorax auritus (double-crested cormorants) resident to Lake Champlain. We did so by quantifying and characterizing (e.g., fragment, fiber, film, foam, pellet) plastic particulate.Wet peroxide oxidation digests were performed on digestive tracts of 506 lake organisms, specifically invertebrates (n = 301), 15 species of fish (n = 190), and Phalacrocorax auritus (double-crested cormorants) (n = 15). Our research indicated that fibers were the were the most common (80.1%) type of particulate found in all organisms, followed by fragments (9.64%), films (6.36%), foam (3.01%), and pellets (Amia calva) contained the greatest average number of plastic particulate (n = 29.67), followed by lake trout (Salvelinus hamaycush) (n = 21.42), and northern pike (Esox lucius) (n = 20.1). Among digested fish, stomachs contained the greatest mean number of MPs (n=5.62), followed by the esophagus (n=5.36) and intestines (n=4.8). These findings suggest biomagnification and/or direct ingestion is occurring in Lake Champlain organisms, as invertebrates, fish, and double-crested cormorants contained on average 0.36, 6.08, and 22.93 microplastic particles.
    • Microplastic Biomagnification in Invertebrates, Fish, and Cormorants in Lake Champlain

      Garneau, Danielle; Putnam, Alexandra; Clune, Alexis; Buksa, Brandon; Hammer, Chad; VanBrockin, Hope (2017)
      Microplastics are plastic particles that are microplastics, which are pellets commonly found in personal care products, and secondary microplastics, which are degraded plastics. Microplastics have made their way into waterbodies by passing through wastewater treatment plants, as marine debris, via mechanical- and photo-degradation of plastic, and release of pre-production raw materials. Microplastics are known to absorb other pollutants and are hydrophobic particles that can biomagnify up the food web. When ingested by fish, particulates embed within the digestive tract and leach into tissues, posing a potential concern for human consumption. The goal of this research was to determine whether microplastics biomagnify within invertebrates, fish, andPhalacrocorax auritus (Double-crested Cormorant) resident to Lake Champlain. We did so by quantifying and characterizing (e.g., fragment, fiber, film, foam, pellet) particulates. We performed wet peroxide oxidation digests on digestive tracts of (n = 438) lake organisms, specifically invertebrates (n = 258), 14 species of fish (n = 165), and Double-crested Cormorants (n = 15). Our research indicated that fibers were the most-abundant particulates in all organisms (n = 764), followed by fragments (n = 123), films (n = 40), pellets (n = 13), foam (n = 9). Microplastics were separated using stacked mesh sieves, with preliminary results showing a particulate size-distribution of: 1 mm, n = 86; less than 1 mm but 355 µm, n = 144; and less than 355 µm but 125 µm, n = 232. These findings illustrate biomagnification in Lake Champlain organisms, as invertebrates, fish, and Double-crested Cormorants contained on average 0.05, 3.6, and 22.93 microplastic particles. Results from this research serve to inform residents of the Lake Champlain watershed, anglers, non-profit lake organizations, as well as public health and government officials of the risks microplastics pose to aquatic biota and ultimately humans.