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Projecte PlastikHum

Project supported by the Spanish Government


Accumulation of microplastics in wetlands. Transport and zonation of microplastics.

Plastics are resistant materials that have tended to accumulate over the last 70 years, as industry has grown. Due to their ubiquity and persistence, this type of waste can be considered as a potential marker of anthropogenic pollution, especially in river systems and wetlands. The most abundant plastic particles are the smallest ones, smaller than 5 mm, the so-called Microplastics (MP).

And, although in aquatic systems we can find PM in many ways (deposited on the bed, on vegetation, within the gastrointestinal systems of many species...) 46% would remain suspended in the water column.

Looking at wetlands, the concentration of PM has been measured and, although it varies spatially and temporally according to different conditions, several authors suggest that the density can be particularly high even in protected wetlands. Thus, the PM retention capacity of wetlands is crucial to ensure the quality of an ecosystem, consisting of a closely interlinked set of ponds and shallow areas. Where the presence of stable vegetation will protect the whole from external inputs (sea or mainland) from point inputs and runoff. It is therefore to be expected that the lagoons will play an important role in the accumulation and retention of microplastics entering the system.

With this in mind, the PlastikHum project aims to determine the hydrodynamic processes that characterise the dynamics and accumulation of PM in wetlands, determine the role of the main elements of the system in the capture and behaviour of PM, find the horizontal and vertical patterns associated with the ecosystem buffer effect that wetlands can have on the retention of PM and, with the information gathered, generate proposals for mitigation of PM pollution.

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