Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr. Patricia Corcoran


Surface waters of the Great Lakes are known to be contaminated with microplastics, however, microplastics in the sediments of the region are poorly documented. This study provides a baseline of micro- and macro-plastics contamination in nearshore, tributary and beach sediments of Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River. Microplastics were quantified and characterized by morphology and composition using visual identification and Raman spectroscopy. Microplastics are most concentrated in nearshore sediments in the vicinity of urban and industrial regions. Concentrations in Humber Bay and Toronto Harbour consistently measured > 500 particles per kg dry sediment, and maximum concentrations of ~28,000 particles per kg dry sediment were quantified at Etobicoke Creek. Sourced from consumer and industrial activity, abundant plastics in Lake Ontario coastal environments are unnatural persistent contaminants warranting urgent action for the protection of benthic fauna and ecosystem health.