Occurrence and potential risk of microplastics in Lake Mead and the Delaware River

Primary Investigators

USGS Investigators: Austin Baldwin

NPS Investigators: Don Hamilton , Theresa Thom

Project Details

Start Year: 2017

Category: Intensive

2017 2018 2019
$73,110 $64,800 $55,820
Project Location

NPS Park: Delaware Water Gap NRA , Lake Mead NRA , Upper Delaware SRR , Lower Delaware

USGS Center: Idaho Water Science Center

States: PA NV NY NJ

There is mounting evidence that microplastics present a significant threat to aquatic organisms. The National Park Service (NPS) Water Resources Division (WRD) considers microplastic pollution a priority issue, recognizing that the physical and chemical effects of sustained ingestion of microplastic particles may further stress aquatic organisms and birds within the parks.

This study will look at two NPS waterways: Lake Mead National Recreation Area and the Upper, Middle, and Lower Delaware National Wild and Scenic River. This includes a gradient of land uses, from relatively pristine to heavily urban with significant wastewater contributions.

Each park will be sampled to determine:

  • The occurrence of microplastics in different stream and lake compartments (water column and sediment)
  • Land uses associated with different types of microplastics
  • The potential risk to aquatic organisms, as measured by ingestion
Project Publications