Preliminary study on synthetic microfibers and particles at a municipal waste water treatment plant ​

Annual global plastic production exceeds 280 million tonnes and is expected to increase by 4% per year (Plastic Europe 2011). With the growing plastic production, the plastic litter in the environment is increasing. This causes accumulation of plastic litter in various environments, including marine habitats (Andrady et al. 2011). It is evaluated that marine litter consists 60 – 80 % of plastics and most of it is very small, termed as microplastics (Thompson et al. 2004, Barnes et al. 2009).

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P​hoto: SUE Vodokanal of St. Petersburg

Public and scientific interest on micro-sized plastic waste in environment has increased considerably over the last years, but relatively little is known about the sources of microplastics. Also the lack of standardized methods of sampling and analysing microplastics has complicated the comparability of results gained from the few studies. Helsinki Region Environmental services Authority has developed microplastic sampling methods targeted to wastewaters and is willing to share the knowledge and experience of microplastic research with State Unitary Enterprise Vodokanal of St. Petersburg.


The objective of this pilot is to study the amount of microplastic litter arriving into one Vodokanal WWTP with the effluents, and the effect of purification process. The study will be performed in co-operation with Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority and Vodokanal.


Text: Julia Talvitie


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