Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


College of Science and Mathematics


Earth and Environmental Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Josh Galster

Committee Member

Gregory Pope

Committee Member

Matthew Gorring


The knowledge of microplastics remains limited since there are scientific challenges in understanding long-term effects and health risks associated with microplastics in all environments. Challenges associated with microplastics investigations include limited approaches to microplastics sampling and analyses, understanding long‐term behavior of microplastics, the organismal and ecosystem health risks, and finding alternatives to using plastic. The research on microplastics has focused mainly on microplastics abundance and distribution in the environment, while their transport and pathways have remained rather understudied. The goal of this study was to expand our knowledge of microplastics in river sediment.

This microplastics investigation consisted of sampling the Musconetcong River in three locations during low-flow conditions to determine the microplastic concentrations. Downstream trends in microplastic concentrations were evident with the highest average concentration of confirmed microplastics located in Hampton, New Jersey with the second highest average concentration downstream in Riegelsville, New Jersey (farthest downstream sample). Landing, New Jersey (farthest upstream sample) consisting of the least amount of confirmed microplastics of all three locations. The nearby presence of historic fill in all three locations possibly contributed to the amount of microplastics identified within the samples. Additionally, upstream land uses primarily consisted of residential, commercial, and industrial properties in which the plastic materials used by these properties have also contributed to the abundance of microplastics identified in these locations.

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