Retention of microplastics in sediments of urban and highwaystormwater retention ponds

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Urban and highway surfaces discharge polluted runoff during storm events. To mitigate environmental risks, stormwater retention ponds are commonly constructed to treat the runoff water. This study is the first to quantify the retention of microplastics in the sediments of such ponds. It applied state-of-art FTIR-methods to analyse the composition, size, shape, and mass of microplastics in the range 10-2000mm. Seven ponds serving four land uses were investigated, and the results are related to catchment characteristics, sediment organic matter content, and hydraulic loading. We have not found a correlation between the microplastics abundance, polymer composition, size distribution and the land use in the catchment, as well as the sediment organic matter content. Both the highest (127,986 items kg-1;28,732µg kg-1) and the lowest (1511 items kg-1;115µg kg-1) accumulation of microplastics were found in the sediments of ponds serving industrial areas. There was, however, a correlation to the hydraulic loading of the ponds, where the sediments of the highest-loaded ponds held the most microplastics. This study shows that sediments in stormwater retention ponds can trap some of the microplastics and prevent them from being transported downstream. These systems need to be considered when assessing the fate of microplastics from urban and highway areas.
Original languageEnglish
Article number113335
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Microplastics
  • Sediments
  • Stormwater retention ponds
  • Urban runoff
  • Freshwater


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