Identification and Quantification of Microplastics in Potable Water and Their Sources within Water Treatment Works in England and Wales

Johnson, A.C. and Ball, H. and Cross, R. and Horton, A.A. and Jürgens, M.D. and Read, D.S. and Vollertsen, J. and Svendsen, C. (2020) Identification and Quantification of Microplastics in Potable Water and Their Sources within Water Treatment Works in England and Wales. Environmental Science and Technology, 54 (19). pp. 12326-12334. ISSN 0013-936X

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Abstract

Microplastics were characterized in eight water treatment works (WTWs) in England and Wales (UK). Sources included river water, groundwater, and an upland reservoir. Water treatment varied from disinfection, filtration, sedimentation, and activated carbon techniques. At each WTW, five repeat samples of raw and potable water and two repeat sludge samples were taken over 5 months. Microplastics in water were captured on 10 μm filters and nonplastic materials digested in the laboratory. Microplastics ≥25 μm were analyzed using Fourier-transform infrared microscopy. Blanks revealed consistent polyethylene (PE), poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET), and polypropylene (PP) contamination. Spike recoveries for 63-90 μm polyamide microplastics demonstrated 101% (standard deviation, SD 27%) and 113% (SD 15%) recovery for raw and potable waters and 52% (SD 13%) for sludge. Only four of the six WTWs sampled for raw water and only two of eight WTWs in their potable water had microplastics above the limit of quantification. Considering only the WTWs with quantifiable microplastics, then on average, 4.9 microplastic particles/L were present in raw water and only 0.00011 microplastic particles/L were present in potable water (99.99% removal). Values in waste sludge were highly variable. PE, PET, and PP were the most common polymers quantified in raw water and sludge, and polystyrene and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene were the most common polymers quantified in potable water.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Environmental Science and Technology
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1600
Subjects:
ID Code:
156154
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
15 Jun 2021 08:40
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
20 Oct 2021 05:54