Did the COVID-19 pandemic play a role in the spatial and temporal variations of microplastics? Evidence from a tropical river in southern India

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Marine Pollution Bulletin


Personal protective equipment (PPE) use has increased because of COVID-19, producing more microplastics (MPs). The pandemic's impact on MP pollution in Indian rivers is little understood. In this study, the Netravathi River in Karnataka was investigated for the spatiotemporal distribution of MPs. The MPs abundance, size, and categories varied seasonally, with a higher concentration during the monsoon seasons. The reduction in rainfall during MON20 and the COVID-19 lockdown can be the reasons for the significant decrease in the MP concentration when compared to MON19. Polyethylene and polyethylene terephthalate were the most abundant polymers, with a shift from polyethylene to the latter (74 %) during post-monsoon season post-lockdown. The situation of MP pollution in Western Ghats can be mitigated with the aid of appropriate waste management of plastic trash and greater public awareness about the disposal of single-use plastics, which has risen significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic.



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