• 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.
    • Micro-plastic Pollution: A Comparative Survey of Wastewater Effluent in New York

      Garneau, Danielle; Mason, Sherri; Chaskey, Elizabeth; Hirsch, Taylor; Drake, Todd; Ehmann, Karyn; Chu, Yvonne (2014)
      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.
    • 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 Pollution: A Survey of Wastewater Effluent in the Lake Champlain Basin

      Garneau, Danielle; Moriarty, Melissa; Lee, Erin; Brown, Sadie; Buksa, Brandon; Niekrewicz, Thomas; Barnes, Jason; Chaskey, Elizabeth (2018)
      Microplastic is defined as particulatefragments, fibers, films, foams, pellets, and beads. Microplastic pollution was first documented in the 1970s and interest has grown from initial characterization, to effects within marine and freshwater food chains, ultimately impacting human health. Due to their small size, porosity, and density variation, microplastics often escape wastewater treatment processing (WWTP). Commencing in 2015, we surveyed WWTP post-treatment effluent (N = 59) from the city of Plattsburgh, NY and beginning in fall 2016 from St Albans, VT (N = 29), Ticonderoga, NY (N = 23), and Burlington, VT (N = 9). Effluent samples were collected and digested using wet peroxide oxidation methods, followed by microscopic characterization based on type and size. Plant specifications yielded varied microplastic trends in quantity and type, specifically Plattsburgh largely emitted fibers and fragments, St. Albans emitted a majority of foam, Ticonderoga emitted mostly fibers, and Burlington emitted a majority of fragments. Estimated microplastics released per day ranged from St. Albans (30,268), Plattsburgh (14,105), Burlington (16,843), to Ticonderoga (7,841). Microplastics are an emerging concern for aquatic life as they can biomagnify and adsorb harmful chemicals which bioaccumulate up the food chain. They have been found to impair feeding and reduce survival in many aquatic species. This research further documents wastewater treatment plants as a significant source of microplastics entering Lake Champlain and serves as a basis for further microplastic studies in the Lake Champlain watershed. As plants are not designed to capture these small particulate, consumer behavior must evolve to reduce this pollution threat.
    • Spatial and Temporal Distribution and Abundance Microplastics in Lake Champlain Long-Term Monitoring Samples

      Garneau, Danielle; Allen, Eileen; Hagar, Susan-Marie; Austin, Lindsey (2017)
      Microplastics are particles less than 5mm in size, characterized as fibers, fragments, beads, foams, and pellets. Microplastics (MP) arise from four main processes: environmental degradation (UV exposure, mechanical and/or biological), direct release by means of wastewater treatment processing, unintentional loss of raw materials, and discharge of macerated wastes. Microplastics are potentially toxic to aquatic biota and the presence of microplastics in freshwater ecosystems is largely under-researched. The goal of our research was to examine the spatial and temporal distribution of microplastics and pre-production particulate (nurdles) from long-term monitoring (LTM) zooplankton samples within Lake Champlain collected between 1992-2016. Nurdles were counted in full from samples, whereas microplastics (e.g., fragments, fibers) were subsampled due to size. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) characterized nurdles as polyisoprene rubber ribbon. Within the LTM samples (n = 2265), nurdles (n = 3455) and microplastics (n = 249), predominantly fibers, were identified. The greatest microplastic abundance was noted in 2015 (n = 73 microplastics, n = 494 samples). Nurdles were found only in samples that had been collected 2012-2016, with the greatest nurdle abundance noted in 2012 (n = 1,169 nurdles, n = 412 samples) and at varying depths. Nurdle abundance declined since the 2012 peak and in 2015 was greatly reduced (n = 531 nurdles, n = 494 samples). Spatial distribution maps suggest the complexity of the story with high abundances at deep central locations, as well as shallow isolated bays. The high influx of nurdles in 2012 may be related to the 2011 Lake Champlain flood; however more research will need to be conducted to tease apart timing and potential nurdle point-sources (e.g., train tracks, industrial/urban centers).