Pollution Gone Viral: Did the COVID-19 Lockdown Accelerate the Microplastic Pollution of Our Waterways?

Samantha Chillis and Dan Ressler, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Susquehanna University, 514 University Avenue, Selinsgrove PA 17870

Microplastics, very small pieces of plastic (<5 mm), are found in even the most remote environments. Their abundance in our waterways has a detrimental effect on the ecosystems that live and use the resource to survive. Due to the pandemic’s effects on the oil and recycling industries, and human health concern, the supply and use of single-use plastics has dramatically escalated. We examined and illustrated microplastic abundance has a positive correlation to the abundance of single-use plastics that were being improperly disposed of the past few months. We used sediment samples that are comprised of samples taken before and during the pandemic from a local stream near a suburban area, Lewisburg, PA. The microplastics found will be visually examined and recorded after they are separated from the sediment through density separation in a constructed Sediment-Microplastic Isolation unit. After preliminary visual examination, the selected sediment samples did present microplastics in the filtered trials. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Samantha Chillis

Institution: Susquehanna University

Type: Poster

Subject: Environmental Science & Sustainability

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 6
Date/Time: Tue 2:00pm-3:00pm
Session Number: 4670