Characterization and traceability analysis of dry deposition of atmospheric microplastics (MPs) in Wuliangsuhai Lake

In this study, atmospheric MP samples were collected and analysed from six sampling sites in the Wuliangsuhai Lake area from March to June 2021 to determine the atmospheric depositional fluxes of MPs to the lake surface. The average atmospheric depositional flux of MPs to the Wuliangsuhai Lake area (3371 ± 1423 n/d·m2) was found to be several times higher than the rates measured in other areas. MPs were predominately composed of small (0.05–0.5 mm) transparent fibers. The results of the study revealed that MPs were composed of either polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), or polystyrene (PS). The former polymer types indicated fibres from textile plants in adjacent cities, whereas the latter (PS) type is presumably derived from degraded food containers and other items associated with tourism. The presence of PE was also identified in association with thin films, which were likely to be derived from bags or agricultural plastics. The results derived from this study provide a theoretical basis for assessing atmospheric MP deposition within inland lake areas as well as for the prevention and control of MP pollution.

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