of Silvia Morosi
Sunday 11 July appointment throughout Italy with the “Big Jump 2021”, a dive to ask for clean rivers and raise awareness of respect for the environment
Microplastics and abandoned waste do not even spare Italian rivers. Legambiente denounces their state of health, on the eve of the «Big Jump 2021» ***, the dive-report organized every year to raise public awareness on the quality of the water. On the occasion of the event. For the occasion, the results of the first national monitoring of microplastics in rivers were presented (in collaboration with Enea), carried out respectively on four and seven rivers, for a total of 11 watercourses monitored. Special observations for the presence of microplastics were the Volturno, in Campania, the Tiber in the Lazio section, the Lambro in Lombardy and the Isonzo in Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The Tiber is the one with the highest density of microparticles, equal to 1.14 microparticles / m3; Lambro and Volturno have a density of 0.51 and 0.56 microparticles / m3 respectively, while the Isonzo (SO) is the least concentrated, 0.02 microparticles / m3.
The state of the rivers: from the Tiber to the Lambro
These numbers may seem small, but if we consider the average flow of the rivers covered by the campaign we can imagine the quantity of microplastics that are transported to the sea, lakes or other rivers: an average of 230 m3 pass through the Tiber every second, for the Isonzo the flow rate is 172 m3 / s, for the Volturno we reach 82 m3 / s while for the Lambro the average flow rate amounts to 5.8 m3 / s. In addition to the microplastics issue, the health of seven other rivers monitored by Legambiente is also concerned: the Picentino (in Campania), the Po and Panaro (in Emilia Romagna), the Noncello and Tagliamento (in Friuli Venezia Giulia), of the Tiber (the Lazio and Umbrian banks) and of the Esino (in the Marche). Here on a total sampled area of about 27600 square meters, 5892 waste was found, with an average of 589 waste every 100 linear meters and once again plastic (76%) is confirmed as the most found material followed, at a long distance, by glass / ceramic (6%), metal (6%), paper / cardboard (5.8%), textiles (3.8%), rubber (1.1%). The remaining 1.1% is made up of treated wood, Covid material, objects in mixed materials, chemical / synthetic products, bioplastics, food waste.
The types of waste found
In the top five of the most found waste: wet wipes in TNT (17%), plastic fragments (14%), followed by those in polystyrene (10%), cigarette butts (9%) and finally bottles and plastic beverage containers (6%). Wet wipes, butts and bottles and beverage containers are among the waste falling under the SUP Directive and therefore will soon be subjected to the measures identified by the new standard. As for the composition, the form most present in each river is the fragment: it represents in fact 82% of the microplastics found in the Tiber, 70% of those in the Volturno, 66% in the Lambro and 38% in the Isonzo. Greater differences are observed instead in the distribution of the other forms, for example i pellet they are particularly present in Lambro, where they represent 19% of the particles present, probably linked to the strong industrial vocation of the area. As for the polymers that make up the plastic microparticles, a predominant presence of the two most industrially produced polymers is confirmed: polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE). Returning to the monitoring data, another interesting fact concerns the source of the waste found. 22% are packaging in various materials (plastic, paper, metal, glass); 19% are related to hygiene and personal care, namely wet wipes, absorbents, cotton buds, diapers, disposable gloves and face masks; 10% are waste deriving from habits of smokers (mainly cigarette butts, but also lighters, cigarette packs and their packaging). «The data that emerge from our monitoring – he explains Giorgio Zampetti, general manager of Legambiente – once again show us the importance and urgency of keeping attention also on rivers and waterways, on which the problem of pollution from microplastics and waste abandoned along the banks ».
A leap in defense of the environment
On Sunday 11 July, on the occasion of the «Big Jump» initiative, greater attention will be given to problem of pollution by microplastics and waste in rivers, very widespread and important issue but not yet monitored because the rules on controls in inland waters do not provide for it. On rivers “we continue also with the 2021 plunge to ask for strategic plans aimed at eliminating polluting discharges and reducing withdrawals, a necessary measure to cope with climate change, implement the network of environmental controls and resort to measures such as the requalification of water courses and the improvement of the purification service ».
*** The microlitter monitoring was carried out as part of the Zero Plastic in Sea campaign launched in collaboration with BNL Gruppo BNP Paribas and Legambiente, which aims to free the sea and rivers from at least 15 tons of plastic, the equivalent of over 340 thousand bottles and containers.
July 10, 2021 (change July 10, 2021 | 13:45)
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