INVESTIGATIONS

Investigation: Microplastics in our drinking water

Do we have microplastics in our drinking water? In this investigation, we collect samples from our homes (sink faucet and/or bathtub) and then filter the samples for microplastics.

Instructions / How to do this investigation

Microplastics Sample Collection Protocol

Home Water Collection

  1. Each student take home 2 mason jars.
  2. Each mason jar will be labelled with their address, city or well water, type of plumbing (Pex, copper, PVC, etc.), whether they have a water filter, and year house was built.
  3. Labels will be made by cutting strips of Rite-n-Rain paper, writing on it, and then taping to the side or top of the mason jar
  4. Run cold water from the bathtub or shower for 30 seconds and then fill both mason jars, cap them, record date, and bring back to school.
  5. Once back at school, each student will filter all of the water from 1 of the mason jars. (see Microplastics Sampling and Processing Guidebook p. 23 for procedure).
  6. The other mason jar full of water and labeled will be sent to the MSU Extension Service for testing.
  7. Filters will then be analyzed for microplastics under the microscope. This will entail counting and categorizing every microplastic (see guidebook p. 28).
  8. If feasible, each potential piece of plastic will be photographed through the microscope – there may be too many plastics for this to work.
  9. Data will be analyzed to determine if any of the measured variables influence microplastic concentrations in tap water.
  10. All data will be entered into the WeatherBlur investigation webpage and shared with the Gulf-wide microplastic monitoring program (coastal.msstate.edu/microplastics).

 

Notes:

  1. During sample collection, be aware of possible contamination from synthetic clothing and plastic items in the surrounding area. Try to minimize exposure of the water sample to other sources of plastic by placing the lid on the jar as soon as the sample is collected.
  2. This could also easily be done with samples from other water bodies, such as Gautier High Pond, a nearby creek, MS Sound, etc.)

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