Microplastics in the Delaware River, Northeastern United States

Fact Sheet 2020-3071
By: , and 



Microplastics are a contaminant of increasing concern in aquatic environments. Our understanding of microplastics in freshwater environments has increased dramatically over the past decade, but we still lack information on microplastic occurrence and biological uptake in National Park Service (NPS) waters. During 2015–19, the U.S. Geological Survey and the NPS conducted a three-phase study of microplastic occurrence and biological uptake in NPS waters. This fact sheet summarizes results from Phase 3 in which microplastics were sampled at nine locations spanning various land uses on the Upper Delaware, Middle Delaware, and Lower Delaware Scenic and Recreational River and its tributaries in the northeastern United States. Water and sediment samples were collected during baseflow conditions at each location to assess microplastic occurrence, and fish and mussels were collected at a subset of locations to assess potential biological uptake of microplastics.

Suggested Citation

Baldwin, A.K., Spanjer, A.R., Hayhurst, B., and Hamilton, D., 2021, Microplastics in the Delaware River, northeastern United States: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2020-3071, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20203071.

ISSN: 2327-6932 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • What are microplastics and where do they come from?
  • Biological ingestion and effects
  • Delaware River microplastic sampling efforts
  • Delaware River microplastic sampling results
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Microplastics in the Delaware River, northeastern United States
Series title Fact Sheet
Series number 2020-3071
DOI 10.3133/fs20203071
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Idaho Water Science Center, Washington Water Science Center, Wisconsin Water Science Center
Description Report: 4 p.; Data Release
Country United States
State Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania
Other Geospatial Delaware River
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details