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Australian lake ranks among world’s most microplastic-contaminated lakes

Key Point
  • One study examined the concentration of microplastic particles in 38 freshwater lakes in 23 countries.
  • Experts warn that one of Australia’s lakes is the most polluted in the world, and others may be in a similar state.
  • Concentrations of microplastics in some lakes are higher than in marine litter areas.
Australian lakes are among the most polluted in the world for microplastics, and experts warn other lakes are likely to be in a similar state.
A landmark international study examined concentrations of extremely small plastic particles in 38 freshwater lakes in 23 countries.

Researchers have detected microplastics in even the most remote lakes.

Some of the most severely affected lakes had higher concentrations than surrounding lakes in vast areas of litter that formed in the ocean.

Microplastic concentrations in Lake Brisbane ‘just there and cause for concern’

The study found that Forest Lake, an urban reservoir outside Brisbane, was the sixth most polluted, with about three plastic particles per cubic meter of water.

That’s significantly less than the worst-performing Lake Lugano (a glacial lake on the border of Switzerland and northern Italy, about 12 parts per cubic meter), but still “right there and a cause for concern”. .

According to study co-author Professor David Hamilton of the Australian River Research Institute at Griffith University:
He said Forest Lake, although man-made, is fairly typical of an urban lake, and that other lakes in Australia that are heavily impacted by human activity have similar problems. said that it may indicate

The 10.9-hectare recreational lake was built as the centerpiece of the Forest Lake suburb, Brisbane’s first master-planned community.

It is surrounded by open public spaces, but beyond that lies a dense urban area.
The lake has rainwater runoff from heavily used built environments, which is likely a major source of microplastics, Hamilton said.

“It’s a quintessential urban lake,” he says.

“We have many other problems, one of which is the massive algal blooms[caused by nutrient-rich runoff]that reflect human activity in the watershed. .

“I don’t think Forest Lake is any different than any other system with similar numbers of people.”

Research signals red flags for growing plastics crisis

Hamilton, who is part of a group of experts working to solve the problem of Forest Lake, said the study is a red flag as the world grapples with a growing plastic crisis.

“Essentially, lakes are like sentinels,” he says.
“Because water stays in lakes for long periods of time, lakes begin to reflect how we interact with the environment, especially our behavior in the catchment.
“The concentration of microplastics was much higher than many of us expected, and beyond the so-called garbage areas of the ocean. The ocean is trying to dilute things, but things are in lakes.” So, in a way, it makes sense.”
found that some of the most polluted lakes are important sources of drinking water for local communities.
Forest Lake was the only Australian site included.
This water is not used for drinking, but flows into a tributary of the Brisbane River that pumps it into Moreton Bay, where commercial and recreational fishing takes place.

Mr Hamilton said plastic pollution is a growing threat and people should pay attention because the presence of contaminants in humans and the plants and animals that humans eat is not fully understood.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/australian-lake-ranks-among-worlds-most-polluted-with-microplastics/wh19tcdxk Australian lake ranks among world’s most microplastic-contaminated lakes

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