Fig. 3. Morphological characterizations and polymer identities for microplastic particles found in each lake for subsurface water samples
Microplastics are a global contaminant of concern, but we have little information on the characteristics and bioavailability of these pollutants in western Canadian lakes. Here, we quantify and characterize microplastics in subsurface water and zooplankton from eight lakes in BC, Canada. By sampling water and zooplankton, we provide insight into the fraction of microplastics entering the food web. We found 0.607 ± 0.153 microplastics per litre in subsurface water, 0.01 ± 0.011 microplastics per copepod, and 0.02 ± 0.014 microplastics per Daphnia. Microplastic pollution was similar in all lakes sampled and showed no relationship with local population density. Fibers were the dominant morphology observed in all lakes, and Raman spectroscopy identified polyester as the dominant polymer found both in lakes and within zooplankton. Zooplankton generally ingested microplastics that were shorter than their body length and that fell on the smaller end of the range of available microplastics. The prominence of polyester fibers and PET films and fragments suggests that the likely sources of microplastics to these lakes are recreational activities and atmospheric deposition.