Microplastics in inland waters (MicBin)

Investigation and modelling of the contamination and retention in the Danube area as a basis for planning measures

Sampling in the field (left) and treatment of the samples in the laboratory (right)

Microplastic contamination in the German Danube catchment is assessed by sampling, modelling and additional laboratory experiments. These help to identify sources and sinks that were not previously considered and to derive minimisation strategies in the area of microplastics.

The MicBin project aims to be the first to account for the entry of plastic particles for a major inland water catchment area. The German Danube catchment area is used as an exemplary research subject. Plastic particles will be sampled in extensive measurement campaigns at the key Danube inflows and then analysed with different complementary methods. The focus of the project lies in investigating microplastic particles (plastic particles with a diameter < 5 mm), considering very small, little investigated, visually imperceptible particles of less than 300 µm.

In addition to the measurement campaigns in the Danube catchment area, selected samplings and supplementary laboratory experiments will be performed to investigate possible sources (e.g. waste water treatment plants, agricultural areas), sinks (e.g. barrages, soils) and processes such as the fragmentation and relocation of plastic particles in water. The measurement results from the field and laboratory trials will form the basis of process- and transport-oriented models that are used to help determine the total microplastic load in the Danube catchment area. By using scenario analyses and transferring the models to other river catchments, promising measures can be identified to reduce plastic pollution across river catchment areas.