Microplastic particles in atmospheric deposition of Northern Germany

, Klein Malin, Brecht Torben, Fischer Elke.

Atmospheric microplastic particles play an important role in calculating the input of microplastics in the environment. While a rising number of studies stating their concern, the extent of input through the atmosphere has been investigated sparsely. Based on a pilot study we presented at the Micro 2018, we started a longtime-study of microplastic particles in the atmosphere of Northern Germany. The monitoring took place every four weeks over the course of 12 months in two different areas of Germany. The city of Hamburg and the rural area of the Lake Tollense in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. All investigation sites were equipped with three bulk-deposition samplers and a meteorological station. Three sites were located in the rural south of Hamburg, four sites in urban areas with a focus on heavy population, traffic or industrial pressure. In Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, four investigation sites were positioned north, east, south and west of the Lake Tollense. The volume of the samples was reduced by vacuum filtration onto a PC filter (Whatman 7060-4715) and the resulting suspensions were pretreated with hydrogen peroxide (30%) and sodium hypochlorite (7-14 %) in order to destroy biological organic material. The samples were transferred to cellulose filters and underwent staining with nile red solution subsequently. Particles and fibers down to a lower size limit of 10 μm were counted under a fluorescence microscope and verified using μRaman spectroscopy. The amounts of microplastics in the atmospheric deposition of Northern Germany were statistically investigated with a focus on differences between sampling locations. The microplastic count was compared to the small-scale meteorological data of the sampling location. At four of the sampling sites in Hamburg we were able to link the microplastic particles with 10 μm sized particulate matter (cooperation with Luftmessnetz Hamburg). Two sites were investigated with attention to the canopy cover and the related comb-out effect.

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