Published In

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

Document Type


Publication Date



Microplastics -- Environmental aspects, Microplastics -- Measurement, Microplastics -- Analysis, Aquatic organisms -- Effect of microplastics on


Microplastics are ubiquitous in our environment and are found in rivers, streams, oceans, and even tap water. Riverine microplastics are relatively understudied compared to those in marine ecosystems. In Oregon, we sampled eight sites along four freshwater rivers spanning rural to urban areas to quantify microplastics. Plankton tow samples from sites along the Columbia, Willamette, Deschutes, and Rogue Rivers were analyzed using traditional light microscopy for initial microplastic counts. Application of Nile Red dye to validate microplastics improved microplastic identification, particularly for particles (Wilcox Test; p‐value=0.001). Nile Red‐corrected microfiber abundance was correlated with human population within five kilometers of the sample site (R²=0.554), though no such relationship was observed between microparticles and population (R²=0.183). This study finds plastics present in all samples from all sites, despite the range from undeveloped, remote stretches of river in rural areas to metropolitan sites within Portland, demonstrating the pervasive presence of plastic pollution in freshwater environments.


Copyright © 2020 the Authors.


This is the author's accepted manuscript of an article that subsequently appeared as: Valine, A. E., Peterson, A. E., Horn, D. A., Scully‐Engelmeyer, K. M., & Granek, E. L. Microplastic prevalence in four Oregon rivers along a rural to urban gradient applying a cost‐effective validation technique.

Locate the Document



Persistent Identifier