Title of Abstract

Characterization of Microplastic Abundance in Carolina Beach Sands

Poster Number

1

Submitting Student(s)

Aubrey Leszczak

Session Title

Additional Projects

Faculty Sponsor (for work done with a non-Winthrop mentor)

Diana Boyer, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Interdisciplinary Studies

Abstract

Microplastics are small (<5mm) plastic particles that are ubiquitous throughout the environment and pose a threat to life. They are common to marine environments and numerous studies have described the concentrations of microplastics in beach sands. Beach renourishment is a common practice in areas subject to tourism and heavy erosion, yet not much is known about how the displacement of sand impacts microplastic concentrations. Since beach renourishment is common along the east coast of the United States, samples were collected from 8 beaches in North and South Carolina, to test for trends in microplastic abundance and time since renourishment. Each beach consisted of three samples of approximately 500 g that were collected from three ‘zones’, the dunes, high tide line, and intertidal zone. Because methods for extracting microplastics in beach sands are variable, sample preparation was duplicated and variation between iterations was characterized. Microplastic particles and fibers were abundant in every sample and the plastics were very small, averaging just over 100 μm in width. From these data we find no clear correlation between microplastic abundance and time since beach renourishment.

Start Date

15-4-2022 12:00 PM

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Apr 15th, 12:00 PM

Characterization of Microplastic Abundance in Carolina Beach Sands

Microplastics are small (<5mm) plastic particles that are ubiquitous throughout the environment and pose a threat to life. They are common to marine environments and numerous studies have described the concentrations of microplastics in beach sands. Beach renourishment is a common practice in areas subject to tourism and heavy erosion, yet not much is known about how the displacement of sand impacts microplastic concentrations. Since beach renourishment is common along the east coast of the United States, samples were collected from 8 beaches in North and South Carolina, to test for trends in microplastic abundance and time since renourishment. Each beach consisted of three samples of approximately 500 g that were collected from three ‘zones’, the dunes, high tide line, and intertidal zone. Because methods for extracting microplastics in beach sands are variable, sample preparation was duplicated and variation between iterations was characterized. Microplastic particles and fibers were abundant in every sample and the plastics were very small, averaging just over 100 μm in width. From these data we find no clear correlation between microplastic abundance and time since beach renourishment.