Plastic Debris in Sediments of a Large South American River (Paraná River): Occurrence and Spatial Distribution

Martin Blettler

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The main purpose of this project is to determine occurrence, concentrations and spatial distribution patterns of micro-, meso- and macroplastic debris in sandy sediments in a section of the Paraná River (one of the largest rivers in the world).

Macroplastic items observed in a beach of the Paraná River (Entre Ríos, Argentina) (31°42'0.9'' S; 60°28'27'' W).

Macroplastic items observed in a beach of the Paraná River (Entre Ríos, Argentina) (31°42'0.9'' S; 60°28'27'' W).

Plastic debris is one of the most significant pollutants in the aquatic environment. Because of properties such as buoyancy and extreme durability, synthetic polymers are present in aquatic environments and accumulate in sediments all over the world. Massive accumulation of plastic debris has been reported for marine ecosystems around the world, posing a risk to the biota. Freshwater ecosystems have received less attention despite most plastic litter being produced onshore and introduced into the ocean by rivers. Since freshwater biota can ingest plastics particles (causing serious injuries, disease and contaminant bioaccumulation), estimations of plastic debris occurrence in freshwater environments are urgent.

The aim of this proposal is to determine occurrence, abundance and spatial distribution of micro-, meso- and macroplastic debris in sediments of the Paraná River (Argentina).

The immediate contribution of this scientific work will be a first data-set comprised of quail-quantitative information about the occurrence and distribution of plastic debris in sandy sediments in the large Paraná River. As a consequence of using sampling international protocols the outcomes will be directly compared with results from other rivers worldwide better studied, allowing us to determine the situation of the Paraná River. Furthermore, we will to identify the routes of discharge such as improper waste disposal, insufficient waste management, and urban runoffs, as well as the accumulation areas.

Finally, based on our results mitigation measurements will be proposed and discussed with local NGOs and government agencies.

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