Microplastic pollution in the rivers of the Tibet Plateau.


School of Hydraulic Engineering, Changsha University of Science &Technology, Changsha, 410114, China; Key Laboratory of Dongting Lake Aquatic Eco-Environmental Control and Restoration of Hunan Province, Changsha, 410114, China. Electronic address: [Email]


The Tibet Plateau, the so-called Third Pole of the world, is home to the headstreams of many great rivers. The levels of microplastic pollution in those rivers, however, are unknown. In this study, surface water and sediment samples were collected from six sampling sites along five different rivers. The surface water and sediment samples were collected with a large flow sampler and a stainless steel shovel, respectively. The abundance of microplastics ranged from 483 to 967 items/m3 in the surface water and from 50 to 195 items/kg in the sediment. A large amount of small, fibrous, transparent microplastics were found in this study. Five types of microplastics with different chemical compositions were identified using micro-Raman spectroscopy: polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS), and polyamide (PA). These results demonstrate that rivers in the Tibet Plateau have been contaminated by microplastics, not only in developed areas with intense human activity but also in remote areas, where microplastic pollution requires further attention.


Microplastics,Sediment,Surface water,The Tibet plateau,

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