Flocs as vectors for microplastics in the aquatic environment

Wu, N. and Grieve, S. and Manning, A.J. and Spencer, K. (2023) Flocs as vectors for microplastics in the aquatic environment. In: AGU23, 11-15 December 2023, San Francisco, CA and online.

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Flocculation occurs as water turbulence promotes particle-particle collisions with flocs/aggregates increasing in size and changing hydrodynamic behaviors of incorporated suspended particulate matter (SPM). Microplastics (MPs) have become an increasingly important component of SPM in the aquatic environment, and their fate and behavior are significantly influenced by flocculation. Therefore, understanding and quantifying the flocculation of MPs in multiple aquatic systems is a critical step to better predicting the fate and transport of MPs. However, this is challenging given the wide-ranging physical and chemical properties of both MPs and the aquatic environment. Here, we use a meta-analysis of existing data which included 2580 flocs and incorporated MPs from different aquatic environmental settings (marine, estuary, freshwater and engineered water), and an experimental approach that investigated the incorporation of MPs with ranging properties into more than 4000 flocs exploring the flocculation dynamics of MPs. A clear relationship between the floc size and the incorporated MP size was found, even with high complexities in both MP properties and environmental conditions. An empirical mathematical model was fitted based on this size relationship to classify MPs into two groups: 1) incorporated MPsfloc; and 2) not incorporated MPsnon-floc. This can then aid in modelling the fate and behavior of MPs in various aquatic environments and also contributes to a new classification of MPs into small (<100 µm) and large MPs (>100 µm).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Subjects: Maritime > General
Divisions: Maritime
Depositing User: Helen Stevenson
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2023 13:20
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2023 13:20
URI: http://eprints.hrwallingford.com/id/eprint/1598

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