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Community Scientists Sampling for Microplastics in River Sediments of the Ottawa River

A man and a young girl sift through sand on the beach on a sunny day next to the water.

ommunity scientists along the Ottawa River in Ontario and Quebec Canada sampled river shorelines for the presence of microplastics.

Community scientists were given sapling kits provided by a research team and were asked to sample at locations of their interest.

After collection, the community scientists posted their sediment to the research laboratory for analysis.

Read this open access paper on the FACETS website.

Over 100kg of sediment was received in the laboratory and was processed to extract the microplastics from the sediments to give an idea of the pollution level along the shorelines of the Ottawa River.

Forty-two volunteers sampled sixty-eight locations along 750km of the Ottawa River including rural, remote agricultural and urban areas of the watershed.

The results highlighted that microplastic particles where low when compared to watersheds with larger populations.

Large seasonal changes in river water levels and the large size of the watershed were also attributed to the lower comparative concentrations of microplastics.

Furthermore, it is assumed that the underwater sediments capture more microplastics and concentrations of microplastics in these wet sediments will be much higher than in dry shoreline sediments.

The research highlights community science in microplastic sampling is very useful if projects are carefully planned with enthusiastic and motivated volunteers.

This can be especially true for large watersheds, where community science can increase the potential sampling locations compared to small research teams that would have to significantly increase resources to cover the same sampling area.

Microplastic research would benefit from increased engagement with community scientists, and it should be considered as a complementary tool in future microplastic research projects.

Read the paper — Evaluating community science sampling for microplastics in shore sediments of large river watersheds by Shaun A. Forrest, Katherine Alambo, Larissa Holman, and Jesse C. Vermaire.



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