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Delaware River Basin Commission report advances understanding of microplastics in the river’s tidal zones


The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) on Aug. 30 held a news conference at Philadelphia's Lardner's Point Park to announce the release of a technical report, Reducing Microplastics in the Delaware River Estuary.

“The DRBC’s mission includes protecting and improving water quality in the Delaware River Basin for over 13 million people in four states,” DRBC Executive Director Steve Tambini said. “This study focuses on water quality in the Delaware River near some of the Basin’s most dense population centers to better understand the distribution and concentration of microplastics within this part of our Basin.”

The commission’s research, summarized in the report, sought to characterize the distribution of microplastics in the upper portion of the Delaware River estuary, or tidal reach, through monitoring and modeling, and to increase public awareness of the issues associated with microplastics. The study focused on the Delaware River Basin between Trenton, N.J., and the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal. Samples were collected at 15 sites in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

Jacob Bransky, the DRBC’s aquatic biologist and study lead, noted, “We set out to better quantify the nature and extent of microplastic pollution, including the role of tributaries. Our research, which revealed microplastics at all 15 sampling locations in three states, provides a vital first step in better understanding and managing this contaminant of emerging concern.”

The DRBC developed an interactive map of the results, available at

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