Microplastic contamination in the Seine River: Spatial and temporal variations of synthetic and non-synthetic fibers

Author: Rachid Dris, Johnny Gasperi, Vincent Rocher and Bruno Tassin
Year of Publication: 2018
Published: Techniques - Sciences - Methodes 5: 45–53

Processed fibers are highly present in our daily life and can be either natural, artificial (regenerated cellulose) or synthetic (made with petrochemicals). Their widespread use leads to a high contamination of the environment. Previous studies focus on plastic particles regardless of their type or shape as long as they are smaller than 5 mm. On the contrary, this study focuses exclusively on fibers using a smaller mesh size net (80 μm) to sample freshwater. First, the short term temporal variability of the fibers in the environment was assessed. While exposing the sampling net during 1 minute, a coefficient of variation of approx. 45% (with n = 6) was determined. It was of only 26% (n = 6) when the exposure was of 3 minutes. The assessment of the distribution through the section showed a possible difference in concentrations between the middle of the water surface and the river banks which could be attributed to the intense river traffic within the Paris Megacity. The vertical variability seems negligible as turbulence and current conditions homogenize the distribution of the fibers. A monthly monitoring showed concentrations of 100.6 ± 99.9 fibers/m³ in the Marne River and of 48.5 ± 98.5, 27.9 ± 26.3, 27.9 ± 40.3 and 22.1 ± 25.3 fibers/m³ from the upstream to downstream points in the Seine River. Once these concentrations are converted into fluxes, it seems that the impact generated by the Paris Megacity cannot be distinguished. Investigations on the role of sedimentation and deposition on the banks are required. This study helped fill some major knowledge gaps regarding the fibers in rivers, their sampling, occurrence, spatial-temporal distribution and fluxes. It is encouraged that future studies include both synthetic and none synthetic fibers.

Fibers, Microplastics, Seine River, Paris Agglomeration, Plastics

Dris, R., Gasperi, J., Rocher, V., Tassin, B., 2018a. Microplastic contamination in the Seine River: Spatial and temporal variations of synthetic and non-synthetic fibers. Techniques – Sciences – Methodes 5: 45–53.