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Microplastic Identification in Soil Samples of Urbanized Depressional Wetlands

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Kelli Elliott

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Tampa

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David Lewis

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Little is known about the effects of microplastics on human health, but they are suspected to be mutagenic, carcinogenic, and able to weaken the body's immune system. Microplastics originate from fragmented pieces of larger plastics, which are released into aquatic environments from various sources including urban, residential, and commercial land-use types. There have been numerous studies focusing on the quantity and composition of microplastics within marine environments; however, there is still a paucity of research on the abundance of microplastics within freshwater systems, like depressional wetlands. Depressional wetlands are likely to act as reservoirs of microplastics due to their natural ability to filter and trap other pollutants like nutrients and heavy metals. The aim of this study is to assess whether there is a significant difference in microplastic type and abundance within the top 30cm of soils in wetlands throughout the Tampa Bay region. These wetlands have been selected along an urban-to-rural gradient to assess how quantity and identity may vary depending on surrounding land-use. It is predicted that wetlands surrounded by higher levels of urbanization will have a greater abundance of microplastics compared to wetlands located in rural areas. Elevated levels of microplastic abundance in these wetlands are likely to affect the ecosystem services these wetlands provide like biodiversity support, improved water quality, and floodwater storage. Thus, it is essential to conduct research studies assessing microplastic abundance and composition as a potential threat contributing to their degradation.

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Microplastic Identification in Soil Samples of Urbanized Depressional Wetlands

Little is known about the effects of microplastics on human health, but they are suspected to be mutagenic, carcinogenic, and able to weaken the body's immune system. Microplastics originate from fragmented pieces of larger plastics, which are released into aquatic environments from various sources including urban, residential, and commercial land-use types. There have been numerous studies focusing on the quantity and composition of microplastics within marine environments; however, there is still a paucity of research on the abundance of microplastics within freshwater systems, like depressional wetlands. Depressional wetlands are likely to act as reservoirs of microplastics due to their natural ability to filter and trap other pollutants like nutrients and heavy metals. The aim of this study is to assess whether there is a significant difference in microplastic type and abundance within the top 30cm of soils in wetlands throughout the Tampa Bay region. These wetlands have been selected along an urban-to-rural gradient to assess how quantity and identity may vary depending on surrounding land-use. It is predicted that wetlands surrounded by higher levels of urbanization will have a greater abundance of microplastics compared to wetlands located in rural areas. Elevated levels of microplastic abundance in these wetlands are likely to affect the ecosystem services these wetlands provide like biodiversity support, improved water quality, and floodwater storage. Thus, it is essential to conduct research studies assessing microplastic abundance and composition as a potential threat contributing to their degradation.