Anthropogenic litter and microplastics in sediments from Lake Tollense, Germany

, Hengstmann Elena, Fischer Elke.

Microplastic and especially macroplastic pollution data in freshwater systems is rare compared to marine systems. However, freshwater systems deserve equal consideration, as they are pathways of plastic to the ocean. Limnic basins may act as (temporary) sinks for plastics on this way. Aiming to identify sources for plastics and influences on its distribution in a limnic environment, anthropogenic litter (¿5 mm) was monitored semi-annually over a three-year period at Lake Tollense in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany. Four sandy bank border segments were selected, representing various expositions and levels of anthropogenic influence. Additionally, beach and lakebed sediment samples were taken semi-annually over a two-year period to analyze microplastic occurrence. The total mean of macrolitter abundance is 0.26 ± 0.17 items/m² and, always, macrolitter is predominately composed of plastic (75%). Cigarette butts are the most found items at all beaches investigated. Higher abundances were found in September compared to March showing the influence of anthropogenic activity on litter abundance. Furthermore, the transport of litter into the lake via tributaries seems to play an important role. Anthropogenic litter distribution was analyzed via images taken by unmanned aerial vehicles. These showed that litter did not accumulate at the strandline but rather at the edges of sandy beach areas where low vegetation is occurring. For the microplastic analysis, samples were processed in the laboratory by a first step of digestion of organic matter (H2O2 30%, HCl 10% and NaClO 6-14%) followed by wet sieving and the subsequent final separation via elutriation. Microplastics were identified using the Nile Red staining method and for a subset, polymers were identified using Raman spectroscopy. Results on microplastic occurrence will be presented comparing different sampling times as well as sampling points. The influence of anthropogenic activity, tributaries, and wind will be analyzed according to the macroplastic abundance at Lake Tollense.

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