River microplastic contamination and dynamics upon a rainfall event in Hong Kong, China

Pui Kwan CHEUNG, Pui Lam HUNG, Lincoln FOK

Research output: Contribution to journalArticles

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Microplastic pollution is a global environmental crisis because of the persistence of plastics in the environment and their direct and indirect threats to a wide spectrum of wildlife. The marine environment is a major sink of plastic debris and rivers are believed to be an important source. However, the microplastic contamination levels and their dynamics in rivers remain poorly understood. This study aims to quantify microplastic abundance and the properties of the microplastics at the surface of an urban river after a rainfall event in Hong Kong. Plastic samples were collected at the river surface after a 3-day rainfall event. The microplastic abundance was 7.428 pieces/m³ (1,615,506 pieces/km²), which was nearly double of that observed on coastal sea surface of the same area (3.973 pieces/m³). Microplastic abundances were found to decrease over ten times (from 14.015 to 1.298 pieces/m³) within 2 hours, suggesting that the temporal distribution of river microplastics was highly dynamic after rainfall. To better understand the microplastic dynamics in river with respect to the rainfall-runoff process, further studies are needed to capture microplastic abundances before, during and after a rainfall event. Copyright © 2018 Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-264
JournalEnvironmental Processes
Volume6
Issue number1
Early online dateDec 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

Citation

Cheung, P. K., Hung, P. L., & Fok, L. (2019). River microplastic contamination and dynamics upon a rainfall event in Hong Kong, China. Environmental Processes, 6(1), 253-264. doi: 10.1007/s40710-018-0345-0

Keywords

  • Microplastics
  • Plastic debris
  • River
  • South China

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