• 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.
    • 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.