Environmental Health and Safety Major
Physical and Biological Sciences Category
Avery Cozens, Senior Environmental Health and Safety major and honors student.
Microplastic research is still novel and attempts to document microplastics in the environment only include the past few decades. Microplastic research primarily focuses on marine and coastal environments with a recent interest in freshwater systems. Further, freshwater microplastic research endeavors in the benthic zone are sparse in comparison to the water column. The goal of this study was to establish a baseline level of microplastics in benthic sediment of waterways within the Spring River Watershed of southwest Missouri. Sediment samples were collected from 16 different stream locations within the watershed between December 2020-January 2021. Sample locations were selected based on proximity to urban and nonurban areas. All samples were collected at stream baseflow conditions from the riffle/run habitat. A validated two-step separation protocol was followed for collected sediment. Preliminary results of this study indicate microplastics are not a component of the benthic sediment of the Spring River Watershed. Future research will include the exploration of other validated methods to confirm study methodology and the collection of sediment samples from pool habitat.