Field monitoring of microplastics loading and accumulation in low impact development-best management practices

Project Number
Project Date Range
Funding Agency
California Ocean Protection Council (OPC)
Focus Area(s)
Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies


This project aims to evaluate design and maintenance criteria for a category of infrastructure known as low-impact development best management practices (LID BMPs). Few studies have analyzed the extent to which LID BMPs can capture and manage microplastic pollution from stormwater runoff. Through field monitoring and engagement with stormwater regulatory committees and permittees, this research will help fill data gaps needed to develop recommendations for solutions to mitigate microplastic pollution from urban runoff.



In the context of stormwater, the term “best management practice” (BMP), describes a range of technologies that incorporate physical, chemical or biological processes to treat contaminants in stormwater runoff. Currently, there is no design or maintenance guidance for the BMP industry focused on managing microplastic pollution. Few studies have analyzed the extent to which BMPs retain microplastics.

This project will analyze existing BMPs to determine their likely success or failure at reducing microplastic pollution, thereby providing essential information to the regulatory bodies that oversee stormwater management and BMP designers.

The project will specifically focus on low-impact development best management practices (LID BMPs), which typically have small footprints and are widely distributed across an urban setting. LID BMPs typically manage runoff close to its sources and include media-based filters meant to help remove pollutants and contaminants from the water.


The researchers will measure the amount of microplastics in the stormwater runoff entering and discharging from up to six LID BMPs, as well as how much microplastic is retained in the filtration media. This will allow the research team to evaluate what design and maintenance elements influence LID BMP behavior. For example, the particle and pore size of the media used to filter water likely governs the size and shape of what microplastics are captured. The research intends to yield evidence-based recommendations for the design, operation and management of LID BMPs, helping to make them effective solutions to mitigate microplastic pollution from urban runoff.

Principal Investigators
Rebeka Sultana
California State University, Long Beach (Long Beach State)
Co-principal Investigators
Elizabeth Fassman-Beck
Southern California Coastal Water Research Authority
Sonya Lopez
California State University, Los Angeles (CSU Los Angeles)