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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Plant & Soil Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Limited research on microplastics makes it increasingly difficult to measure the potential dangers of their toxicological effect on humans and the environment. Today, evidence has revealed that microplastics have been located in highly remote areas of the world. There are few studies that examine the movement of microplastics within urban landscapes and even fewer that observe different communities within cities. To this end, a study was devised that utilized filtration, dehydration, and Laser Direct Infrared Spectroscopy to monitor drinking water microplastics found in residential buildings across different communities.

Houses and apartments of low and high-income at different distances from the nearest water treatment plant were considered. Comparisons between format differences between housing units were made possible by creating a ratio between rent and the square footage of the unit. Samples were extracted from kitchen faucets for their high impact on cooking and human consumption. While there was no significant difference between distance, income level, and building structure some factors had a stronger influence on microplastic count than others. Using a general linear model, it was found that distance had the greatest effect on microplastic count followed by building type and then income levels. The greater the distance from a water treatment plant the fewer microplastics one was exposed to. Microplastics were found to be more abundant in apartments as opposed to houses. A weak positive correlation between income level and the number of microplastics was found but was not significant enough to state that income played a role in microplastic count. This is interpreted as microplastics having no discrimination on one’s socioeconomic status. As everyone, no matter their background is affected by microplastics, it is recommended that more research be conducted in order to confirm whether other building types and other factors have an influence on microplastic exposure.