Patterns and dynamics of microplastics in the Zenne River upstream and downstream Brussels, Belgium

Miras Kazalyiev, Natacha Brion, Marc Elskens

Onderzoeksoutput: Master's Thesis


In this study microplastics in the small river Zenne downstream and upstream Brussels, Belgium were examined. Combined with results from Knops (2020) 10 sample data sets (with 4-5 replications) were collected from 2018 to 2021. Sample collection has shown the presence of microplastics in both locations, and more dominantly in the downstream station as seen from the results of microplastic mass and counts per volume of water filtered. In addition, library of plastic samples that commonly used for domestic reason was also created. Both sample sets were identified using light microscopy and then characterized using FTIR, EA/IRMS, and ICP-MS (for metal content analysis). FTIR has shown presence of all common polymers (PE, PP, PS, PVC, PET), and EA/IRMS results of isotopic composition and carbon content were observed to be correlated with that. Metal content analysis was the most difficult, but the results has shown the patterns and tendencies in adsorption of metals (Cd, Pb, Al, Ti, Cr, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, As) to surface of the particles. Analysis of metal concentration in library samples based on color and use category allowed to see the connection of metal additives in plastic. Statistical analyses such as PCA and Hierarchical clustering helped to see presence and absence of correlation between different techniques and variables. Overall, this study was focused on observation of different methodologies for identification and characterization of microplastic as well as determining levels of microplastic pollution in Zenne river.
Originele taal-2English
Toekennende instantie
  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel
  • KU Leuven
  • Elskens, Marc, Promotor
  • Brion, Natacha, Co-Promotor
Datum van toekenning31 aug 2021
StatusPublished - 1 sep 2021


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