Dammed water can be a potential source of microplastic accumulation (Zhang et al. 2015), and contamination can be significantly higher in these dammed areas than in open water (Watkins et al. 2019). In the present study, similar to the results of Watkins et al. (2019), all the bathhouses were contaminated with microplastic. The Km-13, Ada, and Campo bathhouses with dammed water were more contaminated than the Carú and Sofrência bathhouses, which were not dammed.
Although the bathhouses with dammed water contained more microplastics, there was no significant difference in the number of microplastic particles between the bathhouses investigated. This result may be related to several factors, such as the frequency of operation and the flow of people in each bathhouse. Furthermore, the number of microplastic particles can vary according to the hydrodynamic characteristics that define the erosive and depositional behavior of the sampled areas (Gerolin et al. 2020). All the bathhouses investigated in the present study are located in floodplain areas. The periodic flooding and seasonal drought that occurs once a year in these areas in the Amazon region (Bittencourt and Amadio 2007) is probably the main factor influencing contamination by microplastics and could decrease the number of particles in the environment. Hurley et al. (2018), who investigated riverbeds, reported up to 70% of microplastics stored in the bed were exported during the flood period.
In the bathhouses investigated, the size of the microplastic particles differed significantly. In other studies, high daytime temperatures (Zhang et al. 2016) and erosion (Gerolin et al. 2020) influenced particle size. Although not tested in the present study, the high temperatures in the Amazon region could contribute to the fragmentation of microplastic particles. However, the difference in size between the bathhouses may not have an exact explanation, as this phenomenon can occur in a variety of ways in the investigated areas without a specific reason for the different sizes recorded.
Red and blue microplastic particles were found, and the color may be related to different sources of anthropic generation. Microplastic particles can be identified by color and shape, which is why they differ from the prevailing environment (Alam et al. 2019). The most abundant fiber colors were blue and in a lesser quantity red, as also described by Piñon-Colin et al. (2018), who studied microplastics from sandy beaches of the Baja California Peninsula, Mexico.
Microplastic particles can have different shapes and are more often found in a specific shape (Waldschläger and Schüttrumpf 2020). The sediment samples analyzed in the present study had fibers and fragments, with the fiber format found more frequently. In another study on the sediments of Amazonian rivers, the fiber format was present not only in greater numbers, but in all samples analyzed (Gerolin et al. 2020). In the River Thames, UK, higher occurrences of fibers were also found, and this shape may be related to anthropogenic activities (Horton et al. 2017b). For Di and Wang (2018), the proportion of fibers in the sediments is relative, ranging from 33.9 to 100%, corroborating the results of this study. Almroth et al. (2018) stated that a common type of microplastic found in environmental samples is fiber, which is believed to originate from textile fabric. As bathing is a primary recreational activity in the bathhouses, the results observed in this study could come from clothing. Scopetani et al. (2020) said that contamination by textile fabrics is possible in different environmental matrices such as snow, ice, and sediment. The fragments found may come from breakage of larger plastic items such as packaging (Thompson et al. 2004; Ng and Obbard 2006; Zhang et al. 2016) but were found in smaller numbers and proportions than fibers in this study.
Recreational activities contribute to the generation of microplastic particles (Cavalcante et al. 2020), and these activities are related to the prevalence of microplastic, as observed by Dowarah and Devipriya (2019). The areas of use were considerably more contaminated than the adjacent areas that are not used for recreation, proving the anthropic effect in the contamination of microplastics in the bathhouses of the Central Amazon. As noted by Wu et al. (2021) at recreational beaches in Haichow Bay, China, where these activities were a potential factor in the release of microplastic particles.
Garbage cans used in natural environments are adaptations of urban models that aim to provide adequate places to dispose of solid waste, facilitating its handling for collection (Pontes and Mello 2013). All the bathhouses, with the exception Ada, had garbage cans, which demonstrates that most of the bathhouse owners were concerned with the cleanliness of the places. For Perrone (2021), the garbage can is the user's first contact with the collection system and is an item for collective use. It is important for sustainable attitudes, such as the proper disposal of solid waste (Lima et al. 2022), because solid waste generated daily and improperly stored is a risk factor for environmental contamination and to human health (Pozzetti and Caldas, 2019).
The collection of solid waste helps clean the environment subjected to anthropic activities and mitigates environmental impacts (Pujara et al. 2019). The owners of the bathhouses reported that they collect the solid waste left by bathers in the water and sand of the bathhouses. This action positively reflects in the visual aesthetics of the bathing areas and contributes to the collection of discarded solid waste, reducing the sources of contamination.
The separation of recyclable solid waste is another way to improve the management of useful materials and practice a circular economy (Gundupalli et al. 2017). In the bathhouses study, only the Campo bathhouse did not separate their waste. This can lead to the loss of recyclable materials, which could have been reintroduced into the production chain. The highest frequency of solid waste collection conducted by the owner during the week was observed at the Sofrência bathhouse, indicating the frequent consumption of food and beverages at this bathhouse. For Ribeiro and Mendes (2018), the consumption of single-use products is attractive due to the ease of disposal; however, associated with the incorrect disposal of solid waste, they are one of the world's greatest environmental problems.
Transport and collection of solid waste by public agencies are important and costly processes, due to the substantial use of vehicles and the intensity of labor (Jacobsen et al. 2013). In the KM-13 bathhouse, collection takes place in the bathhouse itself, which was accessible for the entry of the collection trucks, which facilitates the collection of solid waste compared to other bathhouses. Plastic is currently an environmental problem at a local and global level (Chen et al. 2021). In four of the five bathhouses investigated, plastic was the most generated waste, due to the frequent use of plastic packaging. These plastics can break down into smaller fragments, generating secondary microplastics that can be contaminants easily dispersed in the environment (Binetti et al. 2020).
The destination of municipal solid waste is an issue of increasing concern in society (Xue et al. 2015). It is also urgent that policymakers find efficient and sustainable ways to collect and dispose of the growing amount of solid waste (Salazar-Adams 2021). In the Carú bathhouse, the final disposal of solid waste takes place in a specific area far from the bathing area, as the municipality does not collect solid waste in the area this bathhouse. However, even if this solid waste was collected by the municipal collection truck, they would not go to a suitable location, since the municipal garbage dump in the open air is not an adequate alternative and the National Solid Waste Policy (PNRS) in Brazil indicates the choice of landfills as an environmentally adequate final disposal, having specific operational norms, to guarantee the protection of the environment and public health (Brazilian Solid Waste Policy 2010).