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In Water research

Microplastics pollution in aquatic ecosystems is of great concern; however, systemic investigations are still lacking in freshwater wetland systems used for wastewater treatment. The present study discusses such freshwater wetland system in Eastern India to understand its microplastics transport mechanism, heavy metals association and microplastics removal efficiency. Microplastics (63 µm - 5 mm) were heavily found in surface water and sediments of treatment ponds (7.87 to 20.39 items/L and 2124.84 to 6886.76 items/kg) and associated wastewater canals (30.46 to 137.72 items/L and 1108.78 to 34612.87 items/kg). A high content of toxic metals (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn) were found on the microplastics with polyethylene terephthalate and polyethylene as major plastics types which were also found in fishes and macroinvertebrates of treatment ponds. Machine learning algorithm revealed a close association between microplastics content in fishes and surface water, indicating risk associated with floating microplastics to the aquatic biota. The study also revealed that microplastics were acting as heavy metals vector and potentially causing fish contamination. Surface water microplastics removing efficiency of the treatment ponds was estimated to be 53%. The study bespeaks about transport of microplastics through wastewater canals and their retention in treatment ponds emphasizing sustainability maintenance of natural wastewater treatment systems especially considering microplastics contamination to the aquatic biota of freshwater wetland systems.

Sarkar Dhruba Jyoti, Das Sarkar Soma, Das Basanta Kumar, Sahoo Bigan Kumar, Das Akankshya, Nag Subir Kumar, Manna Ranjan Kumar, Behera Bijay Kumar, Samanta Srikanta

2021-Jan-19

Freshwater wetlands, Heavy metal, Microplastics, Natural wastewater treatment system, Removal efficiency