Microplastics and anthropogenic fibre concentrations in lakes reflect surrounding land use
Public Library of Science (PLoS)
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Tanentzap, A., Cottingham, S., Fonvielle, J., Riley, I., Walker, L., Woodman, S., Kontou, D., et al. (2021). Microplastics and anthropogenic fibre concentrations in lakes reflect surrounding land use. PLoS Biology, 19 (9) https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3001389
Pollution from microplastics and anthropogenic fibres threatens lakes, but we know little about what factors predict its accumulation. Lakes may be especially contaminated because of long water retention times and proximity to pollution sources. Here we surveyed anthropogenic microparticles, that is microplastics and anthropogenic fibres, in surface waters of 67 European lakes spanning 30° of latitude and large environmental gradients. By collating data from >2100 published net tows, we found that microparticle concentrations in our field survey were higher than previously reported in lakes and comparable to rivers and oceans. We then related microparticle concentrations in our field survey to surrounding land use, water chemistry, and plastic emissions to sites estimated from local hydrology, population density, and waste production. Microparticle concentrations in European lakes quadrupled as both estimated mismanaged waste inputs and wastewater treatment loads increased in catchments. Concentrations decreased by two- and five-times over the range of surrounding forest cover and potential in-lake biodegradation, respectively. As anthropogenic debris continues to pollute the environment, our data will help contextualise future work and our models can inform control and remediation efforts.
This work was funded by the H2020 ERC Starting Grant 804673 sEEIngDOM and an Isaac Newton Trust Research Grant 19.23(s) to AJT. CMP and ER were supported by the UKRI Cambridge Creative Circular Plastics Centre (grant EP/S025308/1).
European Research Council (804673)
Isaac Newton Trust (MINUTE 19.23(s))
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/S025308/1)
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3001389
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/329526
Attribution 4.0 International
Licence URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/