Concentration of microparticles in lakes reflect nearby human activity and land use
Predicting where anthropogenic debris accumulates in aquatic ecosystems is necessary for its control and environmental remediation, but plastic and fiber pollution in lakes is not well studied. A study published in PLOS Biology by Andrew Tanentzap at University of Cambridge, United Kingdom and colleagues suggests that microparticle concentrations in lakes are higher than previously reported, and that human activity and surrounding land use may be a strong predictor of microplastics and anthropogenic fiber pollution.
Plastic microparticles are ingested by a range of animals including large vertebrates and can deteriorate water quality. However, little is known about how human activity affects the concentration of microparticles in lakes. To better understand the accumulation of plastic and fiber particles in lakes, researchers trawled the surface waters of 67 European lakes between April and September 2019, spanning 30° of latitude in a range of environments. They counted the microparticles in these lakes under a microscope and with chemical analyses and measured lake water quality. The authors then fitted a model to their field data as well as synthesized, published data from over 2,100 net tows. They also tested if pollution was more common in lakes that were surrounded by lands where more waste was generated according to an existing computer model.