Title

Microplastics in Beach Sediments from Selected Sites in Virginia and North Carolina, USA

Presenting Author Name/s

Gabrielle Dodson, Katrina Shotorban

Faculty Advisor

Nora Noffke

Presentation Type

Poster

Disciplines

Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Geology | Other Environmental Sciences | Other Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Polymer Chemistry | Sedimentology

Description/Abstract

Microplastic particles and microfibers (sizes) constitute a growing pollution problem in coastal environments. Global research shows possible evidence of negative impacts on aquatic life. The aim of this research was to determine the type and extent of microplastic contamination in the beach sediments of southeastern, Virginia and northeastern, North Carolina. The study also improved extraction techniques to remove microplastic contaminants from sediment. At four study locations in areas of limited human activity four to five sediment samples were collected. Pyrolysis Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry was used to test bulk samples of sediment for traces of plastics and fibers prior to extractions. The extraction technique includes two steps. First, microplastic particles and fibers were removed from sediment using a high-density cesium chloride (CsCl) solution (1.88 g/mL) prior to an oil extraction technique. The latter extracted all microplastic particles that had a higher density than the CsCl solution. After the extraction, the microplastics and microfibers were placed in petri dishes for further identification using a light microscope. The microplastics and fibers were classified based on shapes, reflection of light, thickness and flexibility. The chemical compositions of the most abundant microplastic and microfiber groups were identified using Raman Microscopy. This initial study demonstrates a significant contamination of beach sediments at the study locations.

Session Title

Poster Session

Location

Learning Commons @ Perry Library, Northwest Atrium

Start Date

2-2-2019 8:00 AM

End Date

2-2-2019 12:30 PM

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Feb 2nd, 8:00 AM Feb 2nd, 12:30 PM

Microplastics in Beach Sediments from Selected Sites in Virginia and North Carolina, USA

Learning Commons @ Perry Library, Northwest Atrium

Microplastic particles and microfibers (sizes) constitute a growing pollution problem in coastal environments. Global research shows possible evidence of negative impacts on aquatic life. The aim of this research was to determine the type and extent of microplastic contamination in the beach sediments of southeastern, Virginia and northeastern, North Carolina. The study also improved extraction techniques to remove microplastic contaminants from sediment. At four study locations in areas of limited human activity four to five sediment samples were collected. Pyrolysis Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry was used to test bulk samples of sediment for traces of plastics and fibers prior to extractions. The extraction technique includes two steps. First, microplastic particles and fibers were removed from sediment using a high-density cesium chloride (CsCl) solution (1.88 g/mL) prior to an oil extraction technique. The latter extracted all microplastic particles that had a higher density than the CsCl solution. After the extraction, the microplastics and microfibers were placed in petri dishes for further identification using a light microscope. The microplastics and fibers were classified based on shapes, reflection of light, thickness and flexibility. The chemical compositions of the most abundant microplastic and microfiber groups were identified using Raman Microscopy. This initial study demonstrates a significant contamination of beach sediments at the study locations.