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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

MICROPLASTICS IN COASTAL GEORGIA’S AQUATIC ENVIRONMENTS**

Abstract

The world is heavily dependent on plastic because of its many desirable characteristics such as malleability, durability, lightweight, ease of production and acquisition. It is a very convenient material for packaging, storage, and many other activities. Its main advantage is its durability and resistance to decomposition. Unfortunately, these characteristics are also the reasons why it is a major pollutant of concern. Plastics of different sizes are wreaking havoc on global ecosystems, especially aquatic environments. The goal of this project is to assess the prevalence of microplastics in aquatic systems of coastal Georgia near St. Simons and Sapelo. St. Simons has significant human activities while Sapelo remains relatively undeveloped and protected. The liquid was then filtered using a vacuum hand pump and microplastics were identified amongst the digested tissue. Water and soil samples were collected from a variety of surface water bodies in 1L bottles that were kept on ice and transported to the lab. A hand auger was used to collect sediments at the water-soil interface. Water samples were vacuum filtered through a 2-micron filter paper to collect suspended particles. 100 g of collected sediments were mixed with 250 ml NaCl solution and left to settle for 2 hours. Samples were then filtered and analyzed for microplastics under dissecting microscopes. Preliminary results from Sapelo Island show the presence of microplastics in the form of micro-filaments and micro-particles. Microplastics ranged from 3 to 11 microplastics/ and 20 to 130 microplastics/kg of soil. Generally, there was relatively more microplastics in beach samples than any other habitat. Further analyses are being carried out to include more habitats and compare the results from the two islands.

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