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Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity 2023

Microplastics in Stormwater on the UW Oshkosh Campus

Jackie Behrens

Junior, Biology with an emphasis in Ecology and Organismal


Microplastics are pieces of synthetic polymers that are less than 5mm in size. Microplastics have been found in many different types of ecosystems as well as in organisms that live within these habitats. Finding potential routes of how microplastics are entering ecosystems is important to help stop the infiltration of microplastics. Stormwater is a potential route for microplastics to enter these ecosystems. UW Oshkosh’s campus is located next to a large ecosystem- the Fox River. With campus being along the river, the storm drains could be a source of microplastics entering the waterway. Therefore, the overall goal of this project is to obtain baseline data on microplastics in stormwater by quantifying the number of microplastics in stormwater on UW Oshkosh’s main campus. Samples were collected by placing glass jar attached to the end of a sampling pole down the stormwater drains. The samples were then taken back to the lab to go through density separation, filtration, and quantification via a dissecting microscope. It was found that microplastics are prevalent amongst our stormwater drains on UW-Oshkosh’s campus. This study indicates that a portion of the microplastics campus is contributing to the ecosystem are introduced into the Fox River.

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