Can specially protected areas be protected from microplastics?

, Dimante-Deimantovica Inta, Buhhalko Natalja, Vianello Alvise, Barone Marta, Lanka Anna, Prokopovica Anda, Suhareva Natalija, Vecmane Elina, Burdukovska Valentina.

Microplastics are a widely known and distributed anthropogenic pollution found in all kind of natural habitats, including lake sediments. In this study we compared upper-layer sediments from 5 lakes in Latvia (Baltic States, Northern Europe) to see if ecosystems in specially protected areas have corresponding amounts of microplastic particles buried in the sediments. Sediment cores from lakes under different anthropogenic load were collected in 2019 using a Kayak/HTH gravity-type corer. The upper sediment layer was used for the further sample treatment and analysis. Samples were pre-oxidised with H2O2, freeze-dried, separated by heavy liquid application, treated with SDS (NaC12H25SO4) solution and different enzymes (alcalase, cellulase, viscozyme). For the further oxidation process, a Fenton reaction was applied and sample treatment was finished with a final heavy liquid separation. Particles larger than 500 μm were separated by a steel filter and analysed visually, while particles within the size range of 100 - 500 μm were analysed using µFTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy) system Spotlight 400 (Perkin Elmer). A high variety of polymer groups was detected, however it was considerably lower in remote, specially protected areas where the use of water vehicles is prohibited (11 polymer groups) or restricted (16 polymer groups) compared to lakes located in a city or vicinity of a large city (20 to 23 polymer groups were detected). Nevertheless, the most common microplastic group found in lakes both from urban and protected areas was rubbers (from 15.6 to 49.7%). The second most common polymer group detected was polyvinylpolypyrrolidone (PVP), i.e. from 6.4% to 13.6 %. Other dominant groups were viscose, polyvinylacetate (PVA), polystyrene (PS) and polyethylene (PE) comprising from18.3% to 43.2%. Remote location same as access restrictions may limit ecosystems exposure to microplastic pollution. Funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Post-doctoral project No., Latvian Environmental Protection Fund (1-08/86/2019).

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