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A systematic study of the microplastic burden in freshwater fishes of south-western Germany : Are we searching at the right scale?

A systematic study of the microplastic burden in freshwater fishes of south-western Germany : Are we searching at the right scale?

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ROCH, Samuel, Thomas WALTER, Lukas D. ITTNER, Christian FRIEDRICH, Alexander BRINKER, 2019. A systematic study of the microplastic burden in freshwater fishes of south-western Germany : Are we searching at the right scale?. In: Science of The Total Environment. 689, pp. 1001-1011. ISSN 0048-9697. eISSN 1879-1026. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.06.404

@article{Roch2019-11-01syste-46946, title={A systematic study of the microplastic burden in freshwater fishes of south-western Germany : Are we searching at the right scale?}, year={2019}, doi={10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.06.404}, volume={689}, issn={0048-9697}, journal={Science of The Total Environment}, pages={1001--1011}, author={Roch, Samuel and Walter, Thomas and Ittner, Lukas D. and Friedrich, Christian and Brinker, Alexander} }

Walter, Thomas 2019-09-18T13:47:50Z 2019-11-01 Ittner, Lukas D. Brinker, Alexander eng Friedrich, Christian Roch, Samuel Walter, Thomas Friedrich, Christian Roch, Samuel 2019-09-18T13:47:50Z Ittner, Lukas D. Brinker, Alexander In a comprehensive study of microplastic contamination in southern Germany, 1167 individual fish of 22 different species were sampled from 11 rivers and 6 lakes across the state. The microplastic burden of investigated fish was analyzed on the basis of habitat type, location, and a number of abiotic and biotic factors. A particle size distribution analysis of the detected microplastics was carried out. The results showed a relatively low plastic prevalence of 18.8%, with significant differences between rivers (20.6%) and lakes (16.5%). The number of ingested plastic particles ranged between 1 and 4 particles per fish. The majority of abiotic and biotic factors seem to play little or no role in the ingestion of microplastics, suggesting that in most cases uptake is passive or accidental. It is notable that piscivorous fish appeared significantly less burdened, suggesting a low transfer rate and no accumulation in the food web. However, size distribution analysis identified a power law growth fit in particle numbers at the smallest end of the distribution. This carries a worrying implication, that >95% of particles are likely to be smaller than 40 μm and thereby beyond the detection range of this and most other microplastic surveys conducted so far. When the frequency development of small particles is taken into account, the likely microplastic prevalence in the present study increases to 100%, with an average intensity of around 23 predominantly small particles per fish. A striking 70% of those particles would be smaller than 5 μm and therefore eligible for translocation into tissues, with critical implications for fish health and consumer exposure. This raises a question as to whether current estimates of microplastic burden in fishes generally might be overlooking a majority of potential contamination within the critical smaller particle size classes. A systematic study of the microplastic burden in freshwater fishes of south-western Germany : Are we searching at the right scale?

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