Macro-litter in surface waters from the Rhone River: Plastic pollution and loading to the NW Mediterranean Sea

Abstract : We present here the first estimates of floating macro-litter in surface waters from the Rhone River, based on monthly visual observations during 1-year period (2016-2017). Plastic represented 77% of the identified items, confirming its predominance in riverine floating litter. Fragments (2.5-50 cm) and Single Use Plastics (i.e. bags, bottles and cover/packaging) were among the most abundant items. Frequent non-plastic floating litter were paper items such as packaging material and newspapers, and metal items (mostly cans), representing 14% and 5% of total litter, respectively. A lower-end estimate resulted in ∼223,000 plastic items (∼0.7 t of plastic) transported annually by the Rhone surface waters to the Gulf of Lion (NW Mediterranean Sea). Floating macro-plastics are only a fraction of the total plastic export by the Rhone. Our study highlights the current discrepancy between field observations and theoretical estimations. Improvements are needed to harmonize data collection methodologies for field studies and model validation.
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Javier Castro-Jiménez, Daniel González-Fernández, Michel Fornier, Natascha Schmidt, Richard Sempere. Macro-litter in surface waters from the Rhone River: Plastic pollution and loading to the NW Mediterranean Sea. Marine Pollution Bulletin, Elsevier, 2019, 146, pp.60-66. ⟨10.1016/j.marpolbul.2019.05.067⟩. ⟨hal-02151106⟩

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