Identification, Quantification, and Distribution Mapping Of Lake Champlain Microplastics and Their Potential to Bioaccumulate Up the Food Chain


February 1, 2016 to January 31, 2018


Microplastics, can be found all around us. They are derived from plastic products such as water bottles, sandblasting materials, and polypropylene clothes. Microbeads are a common form of microplastics. These are generally found in personal hygiene products and are an emerging issue in freshwater systems. Current wastewater treatment facilities do not filter for these tiny colorful particles, causing them to be discharged with treated water.

This project examines the type and distribution of microplastics in Lake Champlain, focusing on their abundance, distribution, and presence in the food chain. The 24-month study will focus on the city of Plattsburgh’s wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) post-treatment effluent for microplastic particulates, quantify and map areas of high microplastic distributions in zooplankton as well as the thermal layers of the lake they are appearing and categorize plastic polymer types found in collected microplastic debris.

Resulting publications: 

Ashline E, Garneau D. 2018. Characterizatio​n of Microplastics using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR). Poster.

Bullis K, Stewart J, Walrath J, et al. 2018. Trophic Transfer of Microplastics in Invertebrates, Fish, and Cormorants of Lake Champlain. Poster.

Hafar, S-MN, Austin, L, Garneau D, Allen E. 2017. Survey of the Distribution and Abundance of Nurdles and Microplastics in Long-Term Monitoring Zooplankton Samples from Lake Champlain. Poster.

Lake Champlain Sea Grant. 2017. Microplastics. Brochure.

Le Tarte L, McCauley N, Moriarty M. et al. 2019. Microplastic Pollution: A Survey of Wastewater Effluent Within the Lake Champlain Basin. Poster.

Malchoff M. 2019. Microplastics in Lake Champlain. Mountail Lake PBS Interview.

Mason SA, Garneau D, Suotton, R, et al. 2016. Microplastic pollution is widely detected in US municipal wastewater treatment plant effluent. Environmental Pollution. 218:2045-54

Masterson, RS, Stewart J, Garneau D, Myers L. 2018. Trophic Transfer of Microplastic in Invertebrates of Lake Champlain. Poster.

Stewart J, Walrath J, Putnam A, et al. 2018. Microplastic biomagnificatio​n in invertebrates, fish, and cormorants of Lake Champlain. Poster.


Danielle E. Garneau
Associate Professor, SUNY Plattsburgh
dgarn001 [at]