Traffic-related microplastic particles, metals, and organic pollutants in an urban area under reconstruction
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2021

In urban environments, particularly areas under reconstruction, metals, organic pollutants (OP), and microplastics (MP), are released in large amounts due to heavy traffic. Road runoff, a major transport route for urban pollutants, contributes significantly to a deteriorated water quality in receiving waters. This study was conducted in Gothenburg, Sweden, and is unique because it simultaneously investigates the occurrence of OP, metals, and MP on roads and in stormwater from an urban area under reconstruction. Correlations between the various pollutants were also explored. The study was carried out by collecting washwater and sweepsand generated from street sweeping, road surface sampling, and flow-proportional stormwater sampling on several occasions. The liquid and solid samples were analyzed for metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), oxy-PAH, aliphatics, aromatics, phthalates, and MP. The occurrence of OP was also analyzed with a non-target screening method of selected samples. Microplastics, i.e. plastic fragments/fibers, paint fragments, tire wear particles (TWP) and bitumen, were analyzed with a method based on density separation with sodium iodide and identification with a stereo microscope, melt-tests, and tactile identification. MP concentrations amounted to 1500 particles/L in stormwater, 51,000 particles/L in washwater, and 2.6 × 106 particles/kg dw in sweepsand. In stormwater, washwater and sweepsand, MP ≥20 μm were found to be dominated by TWP (38%, 83% and 78%, respectively). The results confirm traffic as an important source to MP, OP, and metal emissions. Concentrations exceeding water and sediment quality guidelines for metals (e.g. Cu and Zn), PAH, phthalates, and aliphatic hydrocarbons in the C16–C35 fraction were found in most samples. The results show that the street sweeper collects large amounts of polluted materials and thereby prevents further spread of the pollutants to the receiving stormwater.

Road dust

Stormwater pollutants


Tire wear particles

Street sweeping


Ida Järlskog

Statens Väg- och Transportforskningsinstitut (VTI)

Chalmers, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Geologi och geoteknik

Ann-Margret Hvitt Strömvall

Chalmers, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Vatten Miljö Teknik

Kerstin Magnusson

IVL Svenska Miljöinstitutet

Helen Galfi

Göteborgs Stad

Karin Björklund

Kerr Wood Leidal Associates Ltd.

Maria Polukarova

Statens Väg- och Transportforskningsinstitut (VTI)

Rita Coelho Steiger Garção


Anna Markiewicz

Chalmers, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Vatten Miljö Teknik

Maria Aronsson

Göteborgs Stad

Mats Gustafsson

Statens Väg- och Transportforskningsinstitut (VTI)

Malin Norin


Lena Blom

Chalmers, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Vatten Miljö Teknik

Göteborgs Stad

Yvonne Andersson-Sköld

Chalmers, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik

Statens Väg- och Transportforskningsinstitut (VTI)

Science of the Total Environment

0048-9697 (ISSN) 1879-1026 (eISSN)

Vol. 774 145503

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