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Pla'Stock project, the study on plastic pollution in Lake Geneva

 

50 tons of plastic end up in Lake Geneva every year – whether as invisible particles or larger fragments. The Pla'Stock project aims to estimate the quantity and origin of invisible or barely visible plastic fragments that contaminate the shores of Lake Geneva and threaten water and living species.

Before ending up in the waters of Lake Geneva, much of this waste first pollutes the shores and beaches. They thus form a threatening stock of plastic which is evaluated by the ASL (Association for the Safeguarding of Lake Geneva) to determine its exact size, composition and origins. This is the Pla'Stock project.

This investigation is taking place on two fronts. The first calls on a hundred volunteers who have been trained to identify small, discreet but detectable waste with the naked eye. Their mission: to walk along the shore, identify small pieces of plastic, and centralize the data collected in order to analyze them. The second front of the investigation takes place in collaboration with the academic community. Sand samples collected on the beaches will first be entrusted to the group of physical chemistry of the Department F.-A. Forel from the University of Geneva to extract the plastic particles. Manipulations are carried out in the laboratory to avoid any risk of contamination of the samples and to guarantee the scientific robustness of the study. Manipulations are performed by two master students, Louise Uhlmann and Coline Guinier, under the supervision of Angel Negrete Velasco and Serge Stoll. Subsequently, the samples are observed at the ASL, under a binocular microscope, in order to count the fibers and fragments of microplastics. Then, Department F.-A. Forel seeks to identify their nature using a FTIR microscope. The exact identification of the composition of microplastics thus makes it possible to know whether it comes from a PET bottle, polyurethane building insulation component, PVC packaging, etc.

 

March 22, 2022
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