Un trabajo realizado por las Universidades de Alcalá y Autónoma de Madrid ha encontrado concentraciones muy elevadas de microplásticos en sedimentos de lagunas pertenecientes a la Reserva de la Biosfera de La Mancha Húmeda. El origen es el vertido de aguas residuales depuradas que intenta compensar su desecación como consecuencia de la sobreexplotación de los recursos hídricos. El estudio demuestra que el tratamiento actual de las aguas residuales no es suficiente para evitar la acumulación de microplásticos.
We studied the occurrence of microplastics in sediments of artificially and non-artificially recharged lagoons from the network of endorheic wetlands called “La Mancha Húmeda”, declared Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The particles sampled in this study covered the 25 μm–5 mm range. Films were the dominant microplastic typology in non-artificially recharged lagoons, while fibres and fragments were more abundant in those receiving wastewater. The concentration of microplastics in sediments reached up to 24.4 ± 5.2 microplastics/g, while plastic litter counts yielded <1 particle/g in non-wastewater receiving lagoons. Eleven types of plastic were identified using Micro-Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (micro-FTIR), the most abundant being the polyolefins polyethylene and polypropylene, and polyester and acrylic fibres. The statistical analysis of FTIR spectra confirmed the similarity between samples taken from recharged lagoons and wastewater treatment plant effluents. Overall, our results showed that endorheic lagoons are very sensitive to the accumulation of persistent pollutants, which include microplastics. The recharge of lagoons with wastewater effluents to maintain water levels, even if correctly treated according to current standards, is not a sustainable practice. Due to the closed character of endorheic basins, the continuous input of wastewater led to the accumulation of microplastics in sediments of wastewater receiving lagoons up to 40 times over non-recharged lagoons.