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Microplastic pollution in the surface waters of Italian Subalpine Lakes

TitleMicroplastic pollution in the surface waters of Italian Subalpine Lakes
Publication TypeArticolo su Rivista peer-reviewed
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsSighicelli, Maria, Pietrelli L., Lecce Francesca, Iannilli Valentina, Falconieri M., Coscia L., Di Vito S., Nuglio S., and Zampetti G.
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Keywordsanalysis, article, awareness, Chemical, Chemical composition, Chemical compositions, chemistry, Debris, environmental impact assessment, Environmental monitoring, Environmental Pollution, Freshwater ecosystem, Freshwater environments, Geographic distribution, Hydrologic conditions, Influencing sources, Italy, lake, lake ecosystem, Lake Garda, Lake Iseo, Lake Maggiore, Lake pollution, Lakes, Lombardy, microplastic, Morphometric characteristics, Occurrence and distribution, particle size, plastic, Plastic debris, plastic waste, Plastics, Pollution, pollution monitoring, polyethylene, polypropylene, Polypropylenes, polystyrene, polystyrene derivative, Polystyrenes, population density, River, River pollution, Rivers, subalpine environment, Surface area, surface water, surface water hydrology, unclassified drug, waste, Waste Products, Water, water pollutant, Water Pollutants, Water pollution, Water quality, water sampling

Plastic debris incidence in marine environment was already highlighted in the early 1970s. Over the last decade, microplastic pollution in the environment has received increasing attention and is now an emerging research area. Many studies have focused on quantifying microplastic abundance in the marine environment, while there are relatively few data on microplastic occurrence in freshwater environment. Recent studies have reported high concentrations of microplastics in lakes and rivers, although the understanding of several factors influencing source, transport and fate is still limited. This study compares different lakes and the common factors, which could influence the occurrence and distribution of microplastics. The three subalpine lakes monitored include Lake Maggiore, Iseo and Garda. The selected sampling transects reflect the hydrologic conditions, the morphometric characteristics of these lakes, and other factors influencing the release of plastics debris in lakes. Particles of microplastics (<5 mm) were found in all sampled surfaces. The particles collected were classified depending on their number, shape and composition. The shape distribution showed the dominating occurrence of fragments (73.7%). The chemical composition of all examined samples clearly shows dominating presence of polyethylene (45%), polystyrene (18%) and polypropylene (15%). The results provide significant relations among the different contribution of direct and diffuse sources to the quantity of microplastics, highlighting the importance of understanding the spatial distribution dynamics of microplastics within a lake system that acts as a sink and source of plastic particles. The significant presence of microplastics in Italian freshwater systems and the spatial variation in microplastic concentration confirm the importance of the input sources. © 2018


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Citation KeySighicelli2018645