Assessment of microplastic contamination on lakeshores of Lake Lugano

Frei, Giorgia and Peduzzi, Sandro and Stoll, Serge and Bruder, Andreas (2022) Assessment of microplastic contamination on lakeshores of Lake Lugano. Bollettino della Societ� ticinese di Scienze naturali, 110. pp. 71-81. ISSN 0379-1254

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Due to the lack of knowledge on microplastic distribution on lakeshores and their ecological consequences in these ecosystems, the International Commission for the Protection of the Italian-Swiss Waters initiated a study to compare microplastic concentrations on shores of Lake Lugano with those of six Swiss lakes. Therefore, samples were collected on nine shores of Lake Lugano to quantify and identify microplastic particles (0.3-5 mm). After fractionation of the samples, the microplastic particles were manually extracted, quantified and characterized using a Fourier-transform infrared spectrometer (FTIR). Our data from Lake Lugano suggest that the microplastic distribution is heterogeneous among the shores; with the Agno bay being the most contaminated zone, probably due to its proximity to an urban-industrial area and the Vedeggio tributary. The observed microplastic particles were composed up to 89% of polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene. The data indicates that Lake Lugano shores have a higher concentration (3’063 ± 2’566 particles/m2) compared to shores of the six other Swiss lakes, albeit the order of magnitude is the same. Regarding spatial variations in the same lake, the pelagic zones of seven Swiss lakes (including Lake Lugano) are approximately four orders of magnitude less contaminated than their shores. Understanding and managing this environmental issue requires a more detailed knowledge of the microplastic distribution on lakeshores and its possible effects on biota.

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