Microplastic contamination in the San Francisco Bay, California, USA

Rebecca Sutton, Sherri Mason, Shavonne K. Stanek, Ellen Willis-Norton, Ian F. Wren, Carolynn Box

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

111 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite widespread detection of microplastic pollution in marine environments, data describing microplastic abundance in urban estuaries and microplastic discharge via treated municipal wastewater are limited. This study presents information on abundance, distribution, and composition of microplastic at nine sites in San Francisco Bay, California, USA. Also presented are characterizations of microplastic in final effluent from eight wastewater treatment plants, employing varying treatment technologies, that discharge to the Bay. With an average microplastic abundance of 700,000 particles/km2, Bay surface water appears to have higher microplastic levels than other urban waterbodies sampled in North America. Moreover, treated wastewater from facilities that discharge into the Bay contains considerable microplastic contamination. Facilities employing tertiary filtration did not show lower levels of contamination than those using secondary treatment. As textile-derived fibers were more abundant in wastewater, higher levels of fragments in surface water suggest additional pathways of microplastic pollution, such as stormwater runoff.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-235
Number of pages6
JournalMarine pollution bulletin
Volume109
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 15 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution

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