Project “Improving microplastic pollution monitoring in rivers and coastal sands” has ended in November

Project aiming to improve microplastic pollution monitoring methods in rivers and coastal sands ended in November

Project “Improving microplastic pollution monitoring in rivers and coastal sands” has ended in November

Project “Improving microplastic pollution monitoring in rivers and coastal sands” (Reg.No. 1-08/37/2022) financed by Latvian Environmental Protection Fund has been finalized in November.

The aim of the project was to improve the monitoring methods of microplastic pollution detection in rivers and coastal sea sands on the basis of existing knowledge and methods and to create guidelines for regular monitoring, which would allow to determine and characterize trends related to changes in the amount of microplastic pollution in the environment.

During the implementation of the project information on monitoring of microplastic pollution in rivers and coastal beach sand in other European countries was collected and existing protocols for sampling and processing were improved. In total 297 samples were collected, processed and analyzed from 5 largest rivers and 11 sea beaches in Latvia during 4 seasons of one year.

In the framework of the project “Guidelines for monitoring microplastic pollution in rivers and beach sand” where created, containing information on sample collection, processing, analysis, results and recommendations for further monitoring.

It was found that the highest concentrations of microplastic pollution in beach sand can be observed in the autumn and winter seasons. Highest amounts of microplastic particles were found on the following beaches – Akmeņrags, Liepāja, Tūja, Vecāķi un Ventspils, whereas the lowest amounts were found in Engure, Lilaste, Mērsrags, Roja un Jūrkalne. Fibers and fragments were dominant in beach sand. Particle sizes were predominantly in the 1–5 mm fraction. The most common types of polymers in the sand were polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene.

The concentration of microplastics in beach sand is influenced by the granulometric composition of the sand, as well as the wave energy regime of the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga, along with the circulation of currents and the balance of freshwater inflow. In rivers, the highest concentration of microplastic particles was found in Salaca, while the lowest – in Lielupe. The highest amounts of particles were observed in the spring season samples: mostly fragments and fibers in the 300-1000 µm size fraction and the most common polymer types detected were polyethylene and polypropylene.

You can find out more about the results of the study here:

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