Microplastic (MP) pollution is an issue that has recently gained the attention of environmental scientists and researchers around the globe. MPs have been an underlying issue since the creation of plastic in the 19th century, but the awareness of MP’s vast distribution in environments and organisms wasn’t discovered until recently. MPs are identified by their physical structure, size, and chemical properties. This research project characterizes emissions of MP hotspots within the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River system in Florida.
Twelve sites along the Apalachicola River between its origin at Lake Seminole formed by the Jim Woodruff Dam at the border of Florida and Georgia and Apalachicola Bay were sampled. The sediment and water samples were processed through sieving, density separation, and vacuum filtration. Each processed sample was analyzed to gather information on sediment grain size, MP identification, and density. The data show the abundance, concentration, and the types of MPs in the Apalachicola River’s water and sediment. The results support the hypothesis that dams like the Jim Woodruff Dam serve as potential MP sinks. There is also evidence that MPs are present in the surface water and sediment of every site sampled. The majority of the MPs collected were black fibers or strains that were less than 500m and were found in the sediments.