Origin, Fate, and Impact of Microplastics in Freshwater Ecosystems

Tucker Hall Room 111

Human activity has profoundly influenced the environment on a global scale. As a result of sustaining our planet's growing population, we have increased our use of synthetic chemicals and organic contaminants. Due to emerging contaminants, microplastics and aquatic systems are hot spots for microplastic pollution. Although microplastics are a widely studied contaminant, this is specific to marine habitats, with freshwater systems lagging behind. Questions specific to microplastic pollution in freshwater habitats include. (1)How long does it take for a plastic item to produce microplastics in freshwater habitats? (2) Are plastics that degrade in freshwater habitats serving as a source of allochthonous carbon? (3) Do keystone freshwater species accumulate microplastics, and if so, is this habitat or species-dependent? Microplastic pollution poses one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time. Our understanding of its impact has to extend to various areas of the biosphere to understand whether these pollutants serve as agents of global change. 

Speaker Information

Dr. Austin Gray
Assistant Professor
Department of Biological Sciences
Virginia Tech