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Environmental problems - Chemical approaches
REVIEW

Beyond the ocean: contamination of freshwater ecosystems with (micro-)plastic particles

Rachid Dris A 1 , Hannes Imhof B 1 , Wilfried Sanchez C , Johnny Gasperi A , François Galgani D , Bruno Tassin A E and Christian Laforsch B E
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Université Paris Est, Laboratoire Eau Environnement Systèmes Urbains (LEESU), F-94010 Créteil, France.

B Department of Animal Ecology I and Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research (BayCEER), University of Bayreuth, Universitätsstraße 30, D-95440 Bayreuth, Germany.

C Rovaltain Scientific Foundation for Environmental Toxicology and Ecotoxicology, 1 Rue Marc Seguin, Batiment INEED – Alixan, BP16110, F-26958 Valence Cedex 9, France.

D Institut Français pour la Recherche et l’Exploration de la Mer (IFREMER), Immeuble Agostini, ZI Furiani, F-20600, Bastia, Corsica, France.

E Corresponding authors. Email: bruno.tassin@enpc.fr; christian.laforsch@uni-bayreuth.de




Rachid Dris is a Ph.D. student at the University Paris-Est in the LEESU. He studied Environmental Sciences at University Paris-Est and obtained a Masters Degree in aquatic systems and water management. His Masters thesis was about a first analysis of microplastics in urban effluents in Paris (France). His thesis focuses on the sources and pathways of microplastic particles in an urban context and in receiving waters.



Hannes Imhof studied biology at the Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg, he moved to the Ludwig-Maximilian University Munich to finish his Diploma in ecology, zoology and cell biology. His Diploma thesis was about plasticity in morphology and behaviour of the coral-eating seastar Acanthaster planci. For his Ph.D. thesis, he started to work on the occurrence and effects of plastic particles in aquatic ecosystems with a focus on lakes and streams. This project is under the supervision of Professor Christian Laforsch, Animal Ecology I, at the University of Bayreuth. After a variety of methodological developments, his current work is about the occurrence of microplastic particles in lake and stream ecosystems, method standardisation and effects on organisms.



Wilfried Sanchez has a Ph.D. in ecotoxicology from the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France. After 10 years of research on the adverse effect of various emerging pollutants (pharmaceuticals, ionic liquids, microplastics) in fish, he is the executive director of the Rovaltain Scientific Foundation since September 2014. The Rovaltain Foundation aims to support research activities in environmental toxicology and ecotoxicology.



Johnny Gasperi is a chemist and is working as Assistant Professor at LEESU. His first research activities deal with organic micropollutants in urban water and within the receiving water. He studied several pollutant classes such alkylphenols, phthalates, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and pharmaceuticals in urban areas, from their emissions to their discharges into the aquatic environment. More recently, he decided to transfer this approach to microplastics and work on microplastic sources and fate in urban areas and their dynamics within the receiving water.



François Galgani, Ph.D., project manager at IFREMER, has 25 years of research and monitoring in the fields of ecotoxicology, chemistry and marine litter. Dr Galgani also chairs the European Commission/DG ENV/ Marine Strategy Coordination Group/Technical group on marine litter and the United Nations Environmental Programme/Mediterranean pollution (MEDPOL) expert group on marine litter.



Bruno Tassin is a senior scientist, Professor in Urban Hydrology at LEESU–École des Ponts ParisTech. After 15 years of research on the physical and biogeochemical modelling of lakes recovering from eutrophication, his research activities moved to the analysis of water quality in urban environments and its interactions with new water management approaches. In 2013, he started research on microplastics in urban environments at LEESU in collaboration with Johnny Gasperi.



Christian Laforsch holds the Chair for Animal Ecology at the University of Bayreuth. His research group has great experience in aquatic ecology, especially on the effects of biotic and abiotic (multiple) stressors on limnetic biota. He was among the first authors to address the problem of microplastics in freshwater ecosystems

Environmental Chemistry 12(5) 539-550 https://doi.org/10.1071/EN14172
Submitted: 31 August 2014  Accepted: 27 March 2015   Published: 6 August 2015

Environmental context. Microplastics in freshwater ecosystems are an increasingly important environmental issue, with the few available studies suggesting high contamination worldwide. Reliable data on concentrations, fluxes and polymer types in continental aquatic environments, including urban water systems, are needed. High environmental and ecological risk polymers and associated or adsorbed chemicals have to be identified, as well as their effects on both organisms and ecosystems.

Abstract. Massive accumulation of plastic particles has been reported for marine ecosystems around the world, posing a risk to the biota. Freshwater ecosystems have received less attention despite most plastic litter being produced onshore and introduced into marine environments by rivers. Some studies not only report the presence of microplastics in freshwater ecosystems, but show that contamination is as severe as in the oceans. In continental waters, microplastics have been observed in both sediments (predominantly lake shores but also riverbanks) and water samples (predominantly surface water of lakes and rivers). This review highlights recent findings and discusses open questions, focussing on the methodology of assessing this contaminant in freshwater ecosystems. In this context, method harmonisation is needed in order to obtain comparable data from different environmental compartments and sites. This includes sampling strategies (at spatial and temporal scales), sample treatment (taking into consideration high levels of organic matter and suspended solids) and reliable analytical methods to identify microplastics.

Additional keywords: emerging contaminants, freshwater ecosystems, lakes, plastic debris, plastic separation, polymer identification, rivers, sediment, urban water.


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