2024 Student Research Conference:
37th Annual Student Research Conference

Sediment Microplastics Load Varies Along an Urban-Rural Gradient in Bear Creek, Missouri

Nina A. Thomas* and Megan B. Cluck
Dr. Robert D. Sieg, Faculty Mentor

Microplastics are small plastic particles (<5mm) found in beauty products, manufacturing pellets, or as fragments of larger plastics. Microplastics degrade slowly and leech into waterways through runoff or littering, and may interfere with ecological or physiological processes. ENVS 210 students collected sediment samples from five sites along Bear Creek, running from Truman State through to rural farmland near LaPlata, Missouri. Samples were oven-dried, and screened via dissecting microscopy to quantify various microplastics, including beads, fibers, and styrofoam. Sediments in Kirksville contained a significantly higher density of microplastics compared to rural sediments past the city’s wastewater treatment plant. This might indicate that microplastics do not stray far from their source of input, that settlement during wastewater treatment removes microplastics, or that microplastic residency in sediments or the water may be contingent on their composition.

Keywords: environment, stream, microplastic, pollution

Topic(s):Environmental Studies

Presentation Type: Poster Presentation

Session: 3-9
Location: SUB Activities Room
Time: 5:00

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