Oral Presentation Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Australasia 2021

Identification of microplastics in surface water and Australian freshwater shrimp Paratya australiensis in Victoria, Australia (#87)

Bingxu Nan 1 , Lei Su 2 , Claudette Kellar 3 , Nicholas Craig 1 , Michael Keough 1 , Vincent Pettigrove 3
  1. The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Melbourne, VICTORIA, Australia
  2. State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China
  3. Aquatic Environmental Stress Research Group (AQUEST), School of Science, RMIT University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia

Compared to marine microplastics research, few studies have bio-monitored microplastics in inland waters. It is also important to understand the microplastics’ uptake and their potential risks to freshwater species. The Australian glass shrimp Paratya australiensis (Family: Atyidae) is commonly found in fresh waterbodies in the eastern part of Australia, and are sensitive to anthropogenic stressors but have a wide tolerance range to the natural environmental conditions. This study aimed to understand the microplastics’ occurrence and types in water samples and the shrimp P. australiensis, and identify if the shrimp could be a suitable bioindicator for microplastic pollution. Microplastics across ten urban and rural freshwater sites in Victoria were sampled for water and P. australiensis. In total, 30 water samples and 100 shrimp were analysed for microplastic content, and shrimp body weights and sizes were also recorded. Microplastics were picked, photographed and identified using FT-IR microscopy: in water samples, 57.9% of items including suspect items were selected to identify; all microplastics found in shrimp samples were identified. In water samples microplastics’ occurred at each site, with an average abundance of 0.40±0.27 items/L. A total of 35.9% of shrimp contained microplastics with an average of 0.52±0.55 items/ind (24±31 items/g). Fibre was the most common shape, and blue was the most frequent colour in both water and shrimp samples. The dominant plastic types were polyester in water samples, and rayon in shrimp samples. Even though results from this study show a relatively low concentration of microplastics in comparison with global studies, it is worth noticing that microplastics were regularly detected in fresh waterbodies in Australia. Compared with water samples, shrimp contained a wider variety of plastic types, suggesting they may potentially behave as passive samplers of microplastics pollution in freshwater environments.