Environment: From ENEA new techniques to monitor microplastics in lakes


Investigating microplastics pollution in lakes, developing a standardized and innovative methodological framework for the sampling, analysis and monitoring of the presence of this emerging contaminant in lake waters. This is the goal of the second phase of the Life Blue Lakes project  -coordinated by Legambiente and conducted by ENEA researchers in the Maggiore, Como and Garda Lakes- which provides, in addition to monitoring microplastics, the transfer of data to the institutions safeguarding environmental protection and the launch of demonstration and exchange activities with the Regional Agencies for the Protection of the Environment (ARPA).

The occasion was the resumption of the Goletta dei Laghi campaign after the stop due to the Covid-19 emergency, to monitor the health of Italian lakes and promote virtuous examples of sustainable management.

According to the latest ENEA data, plastic particles of less than 5 millimeters increasingly threaten Italian lakes: in the Maggiore, Como and Garda basins, monitored from 2016 to 2019, the concentrations of microplastics varied from 10,000 to 230,000 particles/km2. In all these lakes the presence of fragments and filaments of polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polystyrene (PS) was prevalent.

At an operational level, the monitoring protocol that the ENEA Laboratory of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services will finalize in the fall will be divided into four phases, each for the three elements analyzed (surface water, column and sands): the preliminary analysis, the monitoring plan, on-site and laboratory activities. The information will then be extended to the technical representatives of the ARPAs during a specific training course, an important transfer of knowledge also in consideration of the entry into force of the new Directive 2020/2184 of the European Union, which requires to monitor the presence of microplastics in drinking water.

"This is a fundamental step for Life Blue Lakes, which marks the continuation of the collaboration, transfer of knowledge and operating methods that began last year with the technicians of ARPA Umbria, project partner on the sampling of microplastics, which will be followed in the fall by the laboratory phase ”, pointed out Maria Sighicelli of the ENEA Laboratory of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. "There is not - she continued - a standardization of methods and programs relating to the monitoring of microplastics in lake basins yet, therefore our goal is to bridge the gap with the advanced knowledge and methodological framework for the marine environment, for which a lot of has been done in recent years. "

Funded under the European Life program with the contribution of PlasticsEurope, the Life Blue Lakes project brings together ENEA as scientific partner and Legambiente as coordinator, Arpa Umbria, Central Italy Basin Authority, Global Nature Fund, Lake Constance Foundation and Marche Polytechnic University.

For more information please contact:

Maria Sighicelli, ENEA – Laboratory of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services - email: maria.sighicelli@enea.it

Free Videos:



Filed under: