Microplastics in inland waters (MicBin)

Investigation and Modeling of Entries and Whereabouts in the Danube Area as a Basis for Action Planning

Sampling of microplastics in the field (left) and treatment of a sample in the laboratory (right)

Based on sampling campaigns, modelling and additional laboratory experiments, hitherto unconsidered sources and sinks for microplastic are quantified. Microplastic contamination in the German Danube catchment is balanced and strategies for its reduction are derived.

The project MicBin aims to balance the entry of plastic particles for a major inland water catchment area, using the German Danube catchment as exemplary research area. During extensive measurement campaigns at main Danube tributaries, plastic particles are sampled and subsequently analysed with different complementary methods. The focus of the project is the investigation of microplastic particles (plastic particles with a diameter < 5 mm), including very small, scarcely investigated and visually imperceptible particles of less than 300 µm.

In addition to the measurement campaigns within the Danube catchment area, supplementary laboratory experiments and sampling is performed to identify possible sources (e.g. waste water treatment plants, agricultural areas), sinks (e.g. soils) and processes such as the fragmentation and relocation of plastic particles. The measurement results from field and laboratory studies are implemented into process- and transport-oriented models to determine the total microplastic load in the Danube catchment area. By using scenario analysis and by transfer of the models to other river catchments, promising measures can be identified to reduce plastic pollution in various river catchment areas.