Analyzing and Quantifying Microfiber Pollution in the Lake Michigan Watershed
Arts and Sciences
Research in the field of microfiber collection and analysis has become quite important in understanding the types and quantity of pollution that inhabit watershed around the world. Microfibers, which are a type of microplastic, are found in items such as our clothing, blankets, rugs, etc. Types of microfibers include, but are not limited to: polyester, rayon, acrylic, and nylon. As the use of these types of items becomes greater the amount of microfibers shed from these items into the environment also increases. In order to understand the microfiber pollution on a local level, research is being carried out on water samples in order to identify and analyze the microfibers found in the Valparaiso, Indiana waterway, known as Salt Creek. This creek eventually flows into Lake Michigan and carries water runoff from water treatment plants in Valparaiso and South Haven, Indiana. We have been collecting 500 mL water samples and collect total suspended solids (TSS) through filtration. The samples undergo the Fenton reaction to eliminate natural fibers from the filter quantify synthetic microfibers present in the creek. Standard samples are created in order to test the efficiency of the lab procedures. These standards include rayon, nylon, polyester, acrylic, and combined samples of clothing placed in beakers to shed microfibers. standards include rayon, nylon, polyester, acrylic, and combined samples of clothing placed in beakers to shed microfibers. The standard samples are processed alongside the water samples in order to quantify and analyze microfiber pollution in the local watershed. A significant number of the 500 mL water samples contain one or more microfibers, and polyester fibers appear to be the most common.
Keywords: Microfiber, microplastic, Fenton reaction, TSS filtration, pollution.
Kostelnik, Edward; Huff, Allen; and Pohlman-Zordan, Julie, "Analyzing and Quantifying Microfiber Pollution in the Lake Michigan Watershed" (2018). Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE). 725.