100 Plastic Rivers project tracks the sources of plastic pollution from river to sea

Plastic pollution has become recognized as a major environmental challenge, particularly in oceans. Recent evidence also shows that plastics are also present in freshwater ecosystems, including the Great Lakes. This not only affects human health and aquatic ecosystems, but also provides another pathway for plastics to enter marine environments.

A global initiative called the 100 Plastic Rivers Project investigates how plastics are transported and transformed in rivers and how they accumulate in river and estuary sediments, where they can leave a long-lasting pollution legacy. Researchers at the University of Birmingham lead the project.

Scientists at ISTC and at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) are participating in the 100 Plastic Rivers Project as part of a larger collaboration with the University of Birmingham.  One goal of the project is to collect water samples to test for microplastics from 100 different rivers from around the world. ISTC and ISWS researchers have collected water from two rivers in Central Illinois and are recruiting other U.S. researchers to join the project.

Researchers who are interested in collecting samples for the project can contact Dr. Holly Nel at the University of Birmingham.