The study included an investigation into the occurrence of small plastic particles in the Danube, as well as collecting information about potential pathways and an assessment of ecosystem impacts.
The work was carried out under the leadership of the Environment Agency Austria, in cooperation with the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences and ViaDonau, on behalf of the Austrian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management and the Austrian federal states Upper Austria, Lower Austria and Vienna.
“Together with our partners, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences and ViaDonau, we have carried out a pioneering project: examining a river via the cross and depth profile is unique in Europe”, says Dr Karl Kienzl, Deputy Managing Director of the Environment Agency Austria, who also highlighted that rivers are major pathways of marine ‘plastic islands’. The results of the study, says Kienzl, show that a large part of plastic found in the Danube comes from sources that cannot be clearly allocated.
For the study a new measurement method was developed. Sampling was performed for five different water levels at two monitoring stations of the River Danube to produce a depth and a cross profile. The results showed that plastic enters the Danube in Austria. However, the Austrian contribution to the overall pollution of the Black Sea is small. In Hainburg the average load has been estimated at 25- 145 kg each day. Most of what ends up in the environment as waste is either transported by wind or washed away by water, while a considerably smaller part comes from industrial processes.