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Release date: 2023.03.31
Microplastics are tiny plastic particles, smaller than 5 mm, and exist globally in the environment. They can harm animals by causing injury or death if mistaken for prey. Additionally, they may contain toxic substances that are released into the environment and can enter the food chain.
A team of researchers led by Dr. Alexander Kunz from the Research Center of Environmental Changes, Academia Sinica, and Dr. Falk Schneider from the Department of Environmental Engineering, National Cheng Kung University, and others from National Taiwan University found high concentrations of microplastics in the Wu River in Taichung. The results indicate that microplastic particles are generated by human activities in industrial, commercial, and residential areas, and flushed through storm sewers into the river network.
However, the exact sources and transport mechanisms remain unclear and more research is needed. The results also show that much more effort needs to be made to prevent pollutants from entering rivers.
Furthermore, the results of this study show that correlations between microplastics abundances and population density or land use patterns along urban-rural gradients are not trivial. Strength of correlations can depend on local factors or how well urban-rural gradients are developed. Absence of correlations need to be considered carefully, as existing correlations might be masked by the above-mentioned factors. This has strong implications for site selection and sampling design in future research about microplastics pollution in the environment.
This study “Microplastics in rivers along an urban-rural gradient in an urban agglomeration: Correlation with land use, potential sources and pathways” was published in Environmental Pollution in March 2023.
Link to full article: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2023.121096
Further information: https://rcec.sinica.edu.tw/?action=researchDetail&id=51