Behaviour of microplastics in water treatment plants of surface water

MiWa, RiSKWa - joint project MiWa: microplastics in the water cycle - sampling, sample preparation, analysis, occurrence, elimination and assessment, Sub-project A6: Behaviour of microplastics in water treatment plants of surface waters

Surface water sample with fibre (left), sample under Raman-microspectroscope (rigth)

In the scope of MiWa a method for analysis of microplastics with Raman- microspectroscopy was developed by TZW. This method was applied to investigate the microplastic occurence in several water treatment plants.

The primary goal of the joint project MiWa was a first assessment of microplastics in the anthropogenically influenced water cycle. Different analytical techniques for the analysis of microplastics were further developed, effects on humans and aquatic organisms were investigated and the microplastic load in freshwaters was assessed.

At the TZW a method for sampling, sample preparation and detection of microplastic particles > 5 µm with Raman-microspectroscopy was established and validated in the scope of MiWa. This method was subsequently used to determine the efficiency of different water treatment steps in drinking water treatment plants in regard of microplastic elimination. The amount of microplastic particles was below the limit of quantification for all investigated drinking water samples. Additionally, laboratory test on fragmentation of microplastics in the environment and effects of desinfection procedures in drinking water treatment towards microplastics were conducted. Changes in microplastic properties (e.g. surface properties) as well as effects on organisms were investigated in cooperation with project partners.


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