Microplastics contribution to the marine environment through streams in Fildes Peninsula (King George Island, Antarctica)

, De Feo Bárbara.

Plastic is a low cost, durable and versatile material, and has become an indispensable part of our modern life. Their high production level and deficient waste management have led to the accumulation of plastic garbage in aquatic ecosystems around the world, resulting in accumulation in the ocean. In this sense, lotic systems are considered one of the main discharge routes of plastics from terrestrial to marine ecosystems, including Antarctica. Here, human activities have increased due to the establishment of new scientific bases, exploitation of resources, tourism, which have led to increasing waste production and pollution of streams with materials from different sources. The aim of this study is to evaluate the discharge of microplastics from streams with different environmental characteristics and exposure to human activities to the coastal area in Fildes Peninsula. Water samples were taken from different streams in the summer and autumn antarctic campaigns in 2018 and 2019 with a Surber net. The size, colour and density of plastics was analyzed with a stereo microscope and plastic identification corroborated with a microscope with polarized light. Fibers and fragments were found in all samples, while foams and paint fragments were observed in some of them. The total density of microplástics ranged between 10.1 to 1.3 particles/m3. In all the sampled streams, the fiber density was higher compared to the different types of microplastics found. This study establishes the first evidence for the presence of microplastics in freshwater ecosystems in Antarctica.

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