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Antarctic Pollution Crisis: Microplastics Found To Be a Greater Threat Than Known

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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Recent research indicates that microplastic pollution in Antarctica is more extensive than earlier studies suggested, with new findings pointing to smaller particles and varied sources affecting the Weddell Sea.It’s not the first study on microplastics in Antarctica that researchers from the University of Basel and the Alfred-Wegener Institute (AWI) have conducted. However, data analysis from a spring 2021 expedition reveals that environmental pollution from these tiny plastic particles is a bigger problem in the remote Weddell Sea than was previously known.The total of 17 seawater samples all indicated higher concentrations of microplastics than in previous studies. “The reason for this is the type of sampling we conducted,” says Clara Leistenschneider, doctoral candidate in the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Basel and lead author of the study.The current study focused on particles measuring between 11 and 500 micrometers in size. The researchers collected them by pumping water into tanks, filtering it, and then analyzing it using infrared spectroscopy. Previous studies in the region had mostly collected microplastic particles out of the ocean using fine nets with a mesh size of around 300 micrometers. Smaller particles would simply pass through these plankton nets. The results of the new study indicate that 98.3 percent of the plastic particles present in the water were smaller than 300 micrometers, meaning that they were not collected in previous samples. “Pollution in the Antarctic Ocean goes far beyond what was reported in past studies,” Leistenschneider notes. The study appears in the journal Science of the Total Environment.What role do ocean currents play?The individual samples were polluted to different extents. The offshore samples, which were collected north of the continental slope and the Antarctic Slope Current, contained the highest concentrations of microplastics. The reasons for this are not conclusively known. It may be that the ice that tends to form near the coast retains the tiny plastic particles, and they are only released back into the water when the ice melts. It could also be the case that ocean currents play a role. “They might work like a barrier, reducing water exchange between the north and south,” suggests Gunnar Gerdts from the AWI in Heligoland, Germany.What is certainly true is that ocean currents are an important factor and the subject of many open questions in the field. So far the researchers have only examined water samples from the ocean surface, but not from lower depths. This is primarily due to limited time on the ship expeditions for taking samples and to equipment with insufficient pumping capacity. “It would nonetheless be revealing to analyze such data, since the deep currents differ greatly from the surface currents and thermohaline circulation leads to exchange with water masses from northern regions,” Leistenschneider says.It is also still unclear how the microplastics make their way to the Weddell Sea in the first place and whether they ever leave the region. The strong Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which flows all the way around the Antarctic Ocean at a latitude of about 60° south, might prevent their departure. The researchers are also not yet able to say conclusively where the microplastics originate. Possible sources include regional ship traffic from the tourism, fishing, and research industries, as well as research stations on land. However, the microplastics might also make their way to Antarctica from other regions via ocean currents or atmospheric transport.Research leads to awarenessClara Leistenschneider plans to focus next on analyzing the sediment samples she collected during the same expedition. This should provide information about how microplastics are accumulating on the sea floor, which is home to unique and sensitive organisms and is a breeding ground for Antarctic icefish (Bovichtidae).With the increase in tourism in the Antarctic Ocean, pollution may increase even more in the future, further impacting the environment and the food chain.Nonetheless, Leistenschneider remains cautiously optimistic: “Research on the topic has dramatically increased awareness in recent years of the problems that microplastics cause for the environment and all living organisms.” Although there is no all-encompassing solution, she notes that a variety of stakeholders all over the world are working intensively to better understand the problem and develop innovative ideas to reduce plastic pollution. And, of course, “every individual who engages in environmentally-conscious behavior can bring about positive change.”Reference: “Unveiling high concentrations of small microplastics (11–500 μm) in surface water samples from the southern Weddell Sea off Antarctica” by Clara Leistenschneider, Fangzhu Wu, Sebastian Primpke, Gunnar Gerdts and Patricia Burkhardt-Holm, 31 March 2024, Science of The Total Environment.DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.172124

It’s not the first study on microplastics in Antarctica that researchers from the University of Basel and the Alfred-Wegener Institute (AWI) have conducted. However, data...

Ocean Microplastic Pollution

Recent research indicates that microplastic pollution in Antarctica is more extensive than earlier studies suggested, with new findings pointing to smaller particles and varied sources affecting the Weddell Sea.

It’s not the first study on microplastics in Antarctica that researchers from the University of Basel and the Alfred-Wegener Institute (AWI) have conducted. However, data analysis from a spring 2021 expedition reveals that environmental pollution from these tiny plastic particles is a bigger problem in the remote Weddell Sea than was previously known.

The total of 17 seawater samples all indicated higher concentrations of microplastics than in previous studies. “The reason for this is the type of sampling we conducted,” says Clara Leistenschneider, doctoral candidate in the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Basel and lead author of the study.

The current study focused on particles measuring between 11 and 500 micrometers in size. The researchers collected them by pumping water into tanks, filtering it, and then analyzing it using infrared spectroscopy. Previous studies in the region had mostly collected microplastic particles out of the ocean using fine nets with a mesh size of around 300 micrometers. Smaller particles would simply pass through these plankton nets.

The results of the new study indicate that 98.3 percent of the plastic particles present in the water were smaller than 300 micrometers, meaning that they were not collected in previous samples. “Pollution in the Antarctic Ocean goes far beyond what was reported in past studies,” Leistenschneider notes. The study appears in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

What role do ocean currents play?

The individual samples were polluted to different extents. The offshore samples, which were collected north of the continental slope and the Antarctic Slope Current, contained the highest concentrations of microplastics. The reasons for this are not conclusively known. It may be that the ice that tends to form near the coast retains the tiny plastic particles, and they are only released back into the water when the ice melts. It could also be the case that ocean currents play a role. “They might work like a barrier, reducing water exchange between the north and south,” suggests Gunnar Gerdts from the AWI in Heligoland, Germany.

What is certainly true is that ocean currents are an important factor and the subject of many open questions in the field. So far the researchers have only examined water samples from the ocean surface, but not from lower depths. This is primarily due to limited time on the ship expeditions for taking samples and to equipment with insufficient pumping capacity. “It would nonetheless be revealing to analyze such data, since the deep currents differ greatly from the surface currents and thermohaline circulation leads to exchange with water masses from northern regions,” Leistenschneider says.

It is also still unclear how the microplastics make their way to the Weddell Sea in the first place and whether they ever leave the region. The strong Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which flows all the way around the Antarctic Ocean at a latitude of about 60° south, might prevent their departure. The researchers are also not yet able to say conclusively where the microplastics originate. Possible sources include regional ship traffic from the tourism, fishing, and research industries, as well as research stations on land. However, the microplastics might also make their way to Antarctica from other regions via ocean currents or atmospheric transport.

Research leads to awareness

Clara Leistenschneider plans to focus next on analyzing the sediment samples she collected during the same expedition. This should provide information about how microplastics are accumulating on the sea floor, which is home to unique and sensitive organisms and is a breeding ground for Antarctic icefish (Bovichtidae).

With the increase in tourism in the Antarctic Ocean, pollution may increase even more in the future, further impacting the environment and the food chain.

Nonetheless, Leistenschneider remains cautiously optimistic: “Research on the topic has dramatically increased awareness in recent years of the problems that microplastics cause for the environment and all living organisms.” Although there is no all-encompassing solution, she notes that a variety of stakeholders all over the world are working intensively to better understand the problem and develop innovative ideas to reduce plastic pollution. And, of course, “every individual who engages in environmentally-conscious behavior can bring about positive change.”

Reference: “Unveiling high concentrations of small microplastics (11–500 μm) in surface water samples from the southern Weddell Sea off Antarctica” by Clara Leistenschneider, Fangzhu Wu, Sebastian Primpke, Gunnar Gerdts and Patricia Burkhardt-Holm, 31 March 2024, Science of The Total Environment.
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.172124

Read the full story here.
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Mercury contamination in Grassy Narrows worsens due to ongoing pollution

A recent study highlights that industrial pollution is increasing methylmercury levels in the Grassy Narrows region, exacerbating a decades-old environmental health crisis.Sarah Law reports for CBC News.In short:New research indicates that wastewater discharge from the Dryden Paper Mill has intensified mercury contamination in northwestern Ontario’s English-Wabigoon River.The methylmercury, more toxic than other forms, accumulates in fish and affects the health of Grassy Narrows residents who rely on fish as a dietary staple.The federal government has committed $77M to build a Mercury Care Home, with construction starting this summer, to support affected individuals.Key quote: "We continue to be poisoned." — Rudy Turtle, Chief of Grassy Narrows First NationWhy this matters: Mercury poisoning poses severe health risks, including neuromuscular problems and cognitive dysfunction. Addressing this ongoing pollution is crucial for the well-being of the Grassy Narrows community and reflects broader environmental justice issues. Read more: Whose job is it to reduce toxic mercury in the Ohio River?

A recent study highlights that industrial pollution is increasing methylmercury levels in the Grassy Narrows region, exacerbating a decades-old environmental health crisis.Sarah Law reports for CBC News.In short:New research indicates that wastewater discharge from the Dryden Paper Mill has intensified mercury contamination in northwestern Ontario’s English-Wabigoon River.The methylmercury, more toxic than other forms, accumulates in fish and affects the health of Grassy Narrows residents who rely on fish as a dietary staple.The federal government has committed $77M to build a Mercury Care Home, with construction starting this summer, to support affected individuals.Key quote: "We continue to be poisoned." — Rudy Turtle, Chief of Grassy Narrows First NationWhy this matters: Mercury poisoning poses severe health risks, including neuromuscular problems and cognitive dysfunction. Addressing this ongoing pollution is crucial for the well-being of the Grassy Narrows community and reflects broader environmental justice issues. Read more: Whose job is it to reduce toxic mercury in the Ohio River?

Congestion Pricing Could Bring Cleaner Air. But Maybe Not for Everyone.

Officials expect New York City’s new tolling system to reduce air pollution, as well as carbon emissions. The impact may be uneven.

When congestion pricing takes effect in New York City next month, officials say it will create an array of benefits: The system’s tolls will generate revenue for improving mass transit while prompting some drivers to avoid Manhattan, potentially reducing traffic and air pollution, as well as carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.Some of those goals are already within sight: Devices that will monitor cars and send bills to drivers are in place, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which will operate the system, has begun to detail the transit repairs and upgrades it plans to spend its windfall on.For now, though, it is unclear how much the program will contribute to New York State’s ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse emissions 85 percent by 2050. And some people worry that less air pollution in some areas will be offset by more in others, despite efforts to keep that from happening.According to an environmental assessment by the authority, congestion pricing could decrease air pollution overall in three boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. The concern is that rerouted traffic could increase it in the Bronx and on Staten Island.“It’s safe to say the direct air-quality benefits would be modest but measurable overall,” said Eric A. Goldstein, a senior attorney and New York City environment director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. The plan, he added, is worthwhile because of its benefits for public transit, whose health is crucial for luring people away from private vehicles.“If you look at London and Stockholm, they had improved traffic, modest air quality, and jolts of adrenaline to their transportation systems,” he said, referring to similar programs in those cities.Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

Cape Cod Weighs Big-Ticket Pollution Solutions

Toxic algal blooms are forcing Cape Cod communities to consider expensive sewer and septic system projects.

This story was co-published with WBUR in Boston and produced with assistance from the Pulitzer Center. Read WBUR’s coverage of efforts to improve Cape Cod’s water pollution, including a “pee-cycling” project being considered by one innovative town. And check out a documentary short exploring these issues that was co-produced by WBUR and Scientific American.[CLIP: Theme music]Rachel Feltman: Cape Cod’s ponds and bays have suffered from decades of pollution. But scientific detective work has finally pinpointed the worst culprit: human urine. When household septic systems flush nitrogen and other nutrients into the water, they provide an all-you-can-eat buffet for algae blooms. More algae means less sunlight and oxygen for other marine life, which means trouble for the people of Cape Cod.On supporting science journalismIf you're enjoying this article, consider supporting our award-winning journalism by subscribing. By purchasing a subscription you are helping to ensure the future of impactful stories about the discoveries and ideas shaping our world today.For Science Quickly, I’m Rachel Feltman. Today we’re bringing you the second installment in our three-part Fascination series on Cape Cod’s yellow tide. In this episode WBUR environmental correspondent Barbara Moran looks at some of the big-ticket pollution solutions up for consideration—and unpacks why they’re so controversial.So without further ado, here’s part two: “Sticker Shock.”[CLIP: Gerard Martin speaks at a Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) hearing: “All right, excuse me, everybody, I think we’re gonna get going.”]Barbara Moran: Starting in late 2022 and continuing into the next year, concerned residents gathered for a series of public meetings with representatives from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. The residents were there to share their thoughts.[CLIP: Martin continues to speak at the hearing: “The hearing is being recorded and conducted in a hybrid format.”]Moran: The state was proposing new rules that would require communities to reduce their nitrogen pollution. In some places that meant people would potentially have to install new $35,000 septic systems. Here’s what Frank King of Brewster, Massachusetts, had to say about that.[CLIP: Frank King speaks at the MassDEP hearing: “If that is correct, you are looking at a massive protest on the scale of another Boston Tea Party.”][CLIP: Chris Shanahan speaks at the MassDEP hearing: “Thirty or thirty-five thousand dollars a year? That’s a complete misrepresentation.”]Moran: That’s Chris Shanahan of Falmouth, Massachusetts.[CLIP: Shanahan continues to speak at the hearing: “You can buy a system for that. You gotta maintain it. You gotta fix parts. It just never ends. So lifetime expense is more like eighty or a hundred thousand over 30 years.”][CLIP: Joan Hutchings speaks at the MassDEP hearing: “I’m not somebody that has a McMansion. I’ve got a three-bedroom home that’s been in my family for a bazillion years.”]Moran: Joan Hutchings of North Truro, Massachusetts. She said her town already made her upgrade her septic system.[CLIP: Hutchings continues to speak at the hearing: “Now the state’s gonna have me do something else? I don’t know, I might put an outhouse out back—seriously.”]Moran: People are concerned about the cost, as you heard. But they’re also concerned about whether these new systems even work. Can they actually prevent water pollution? I wondered the same thing. So I went to see an expert.Brian Baumgaertel: My name is Brian Baumgaertel. I’m the director of the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center.Moran: You met Brian briefly in Episode One. Now we’re on his home turf: a two-and-a-half acre outdoor laboratory on Cape Cod known as MASSTC.Brian’s team is on a mission to find the best septic systems in the world—and it’s not a job for the squeamish.[CLIP: Sound of wastewater channel]Moran (tape): All right, so I’m looking into this hole, and there’s, like, water pouring in and some scummy stuff floating around there.Baumgaertel: Yeah, that’s the raw wastewater coming in from Joint Base Cape Cod. And it doesn’t look like what most people would think of when—you know, when you’re thinking of wastewater, you think it’s pretty disgusting. I—you know, maybe I’ve just gotten so used to it. I don’t know.Moran (tape): It is a little disgusting. [Laughs]Baumgaertel: It’s got kind of a smell. You know, it’s one of the less glorious parts of MASSTC, but it’s a necessity. [Laughs] It’s brown gold, brown gold for us.Moran: MASSTC uses that brown gold to test prototype septic systems from all over the world. I ask Brian to show me one—although it’s hard to see much at the facility.Baumgaertel: A lot of what we do here is underground because of course, for the most part, septic systems in homes would be underground.Moran: Brian walks over to a grassy mound that looks weirdly like a burial site—which it is, actually. He says that buried underneath our feet is a new kind of septic system that removes nitrogen from wastewater.Here’s how it works: Wastewater flows into a tank, and all the solid stuff sinks to the bottom. The liquid left floating on top includes our pee, which is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients. This liquid flows out of the tank …Baumgaertel: And then flows into the actual unit itself …Moran (tape): Another tank that’s under our feet.Baumgaertel: Yep, yep. There’s another tank that’s about 12 feet long right here.Moran (tape): Okay.Baumgaertel: And inside that tank are a number of compartments.Moran: The compartments contain limestone rocks and wood chips. These ingredients create a breeding ground for bacteria that eat nitrogen. They convert it into harmless nitrogen gas before it gets into the groundwater.Other systems remove nitrogen in different ways. Brian and his team test the water coming out of each system to see how well it works. And he says this one has been working pretty well.Baumgaertel: So far the data look very encouraging. Every day we get a little bit more data, we get a little bit more confidence that the technology can work.[CLIP: “We Are Giants,” by Silver Maple]Moran: Others are also heartened by the data, including Zenas Crocker, who goes by Zee. He’s executive director of the nonprofit Barnstable Clean Water Coalition.Zenas Crocker: And this system is so successful that in the data that we’re seeing now, it will remove between 95 and 97 percent of nitrogen going into the groundwater.Moran: Zee’s group was so impressed with how well these systems remove nitrogen that it launched a pilot project. The group is installing more than a dozen in a neighborhood by Shubael Pond in Barnstable, Massachusetts—including one when I visited last September.[CLIP: Sound of chains being attached to a tank, followed by it being lifted]Moran: As we watch, a crane operator uses chains to lift a concrete tank and lower it into a hole in the ground.[CLIP: Sound of the tank being lowered and men talking]Moran: Zee’s group is working with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey to monitor how well the new systems keep nitrogen out of the groundwater.Crocker: We chose this location in particular because these are all small lots. We’re also in a working-class community. Generally we’re looking at full-time residents here and people who really can’t afford, necessarily, to upgrade their septic systems.Moran: The Barnstable Clean Water Coalition paid to install the systems in this neighborhood; the homeowners paid nothing—which won’t be an option for the whole cape.But there is another approach to stopping wastewater pollution: switching from septic tanks to sewage pipes, which would bring the waste to a treatment plant. And that’s what Barnstable is doing in other parts of the town.I went to Barnstable’s town hall to meet the guy in charge.Moran (tape): Hi, how’re you doing? I have a nine o’clock interview with Mark Ells.Receptionist: Okay, sure, he’ll be right with you.Moran: Mark Ells is Barnstable’s town manager.Mark Ells: We’ve seen a significant deterioration of our bays to the point where we don’t have shellfish, we don’t have finfish. So we want to make sure that we put in place solutions that help us to address not only what we know today but what we’re anticipating tomorrow.Moran: Barnstable is the largest town on the cape, and parts are pretty urban, with houses and commercial buildings relatively close together. In places like this, sewer systems are a practical and cost-effective choice.So the town has begun a massive expansion of its sewer system, planning to extend service to almost 12,000 properties.[CLIP: “Let There Be Rain,” by Silver Maple]It’ll take 30 years and cost more than $1 billion. The town got local, state and federal funding to help cover the expansion costs. But homeowners will still have to pay.First there’s a town assessment of up to $10,000. Then homeowners have to pay to get their house hooked up to the sewer line and pay for someone to deal with their old septic tank. And then they’ll have a monthly sewer bill. The final cost, spread over decades, is probably in the range of $20,000 to $30,000—or more—per house.[CLIP: Construction sounds]Moran: And there’s another cost to installing sewer lines: seemingly constant roadwork and traffic jams.One day last fall cars crawled along as superintendent Mike Donovan’s crew dug up the main road into Barnstable.Moran (tape): Is this going to be, like, what your company does for, like, the next three decades?Mike Donovan: We—well, hopefully, yeah. That’s what we do for a living. We’re installing sewer all over the cape right now.Moran: But even this ambitious, expensive sewer expansion will take decades to reach some neighborhoods in Barnstable.Pat Uhlman lives across the street from Shubael Pond. And she’s seen it turn green with toxic algae. She says a few decades is too long to keep polluting the water.Pat Uhlman: If we don’t start cleaning it up now, you know, you might not even want to walk down by that pond by then.Moran: Luckily Pat is part of the neighborhood pilot project that got new septic systems installed for free. She says she understands that other homeowners are feeling sticker shock, but the pollution has to stop.Uhlman: The cape economy is still people coming here in the summer. So if they can’t swim in our ponds, they can’t swim in our ocean, they can’t boat, there’s not gonna be any reason for them to come here.[CLIP: Theme music]Moran: There may be another solution, a cheaper one. It won’t solve all the cape’s water problems, but it could help—a lot. We’ll talk about that next week in the final part of this Scientific American–WBUR Fascination miniseries.Feltman: Thanks for listening. Tune in next Friday for the final installment in this miniseries—which, spoiler alert, involves a little something called “pee-cycling.” You don’t want to miss it.Can’t wait for next Friday to get here? Don’t worry. We are taking Monday off for Memorial Day, but we’ll be back in your feed on Wednesday with some tips for protecting wildlife from the comfort of your own backyard.This series is a co-production of WBUR and Scientific American. It’s reported and hosted by WBUR’s Barbara Moran.Science Quickly is produced by Jeff DelViscio, Kelso Harper, Madison Goldberg and Rachel Feltman. Our theme music was composed by Dominic Smith. Shayna Posses and Aaron Shattuck fact-checked this series, and Duy Linh Tu and Sebastian Tuinder contributed reporting and sound. WBUR’s Kathleen Masterson edited this series. Additional funding was provided by the Pulitzer Center.For Scientific American’s Science Quickly, I’m Rachel Feltman.

New Plant-Based Plastic Releases 9 Times Less Microplastics

Recent research shows that plant-based plastics release far fewer microplastics than traditional plastics in marine environments, suggesting they could be a more environmentally friendly option....

A study by the University of Portsmouth and the Flanders Marine Institute has found that a plant-based plastic material emits significantly fewer microplastics than traditional plastic when subjected to sunlight and seawater. The research highlights the resilience of bio-based plastics and emphasizes the need for further investigation into their environmental impact, particularly in marine settings. Despite the promising results, the release of any microplastics remains concerning, pointing to a continued need for innovation and stricter environmental policies.Recent research shows that plant-based plastics release far fewer microplastics than traditional plastics in marine environments, suggesting they could be a more environmentally friendly option. However, continued research is crucial to fully assess their impact.A recent study has discovered that a new plant-based plastic material releases nine times fewer microplastics compared to traditional plastic when subjected to sunlight and seawater. Conducted by researchers from the University of Portsmouth and the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) in Belgium, the study examined the degradation of two different types of plastic under harsh conditions.A bio-based plastic material made from natural feedstocks held up better when exposed to intense UV light and seawater for 76 days – the equivalent of 24 months of sun exposure in central Europe – than a conventional plastic made from petroleum derivatives. Environmental Impacts of Bio-Based PlasticsProfessor of Mechanical Engineering, Hom Dhakal, from the University’s School of Mechanical and Design Engineering, and a member of Revolution Plastics said: “Bio-based plastics are gaining interest as alternatives to conventional plastics, but little is known about their potential source of microplastics pollution in the marine environment.Professor Hom Dhakal. Credit: University of Portsmouth“It’s important to understand how these materials behave when they’re exposed to extreme environments, so we can predict how they’ll work when they’re used in marine applications, like building a boat hull, and what impact they might have on ocean life.“By knowing the effect of different types of plastics on the environment, we can make better choices to protect our oceans.”According to the Plastic Oceans International Organization, the equivalent of a truckload of plastic is poured into the oceans every minute of the day. When this plastic waste is exposed to the environment, it breaks down into smaller particles that are less than 5mm in size.These particles are known as ‘microplastics’ and have been observed in most marine ecosystems, posing a serious threat to aquatic life.“We wanted to look at a conventional industrial polymer, polypropylene, which is non-biodegradable and difficult to recycle, against polylactic acid (PLA), a biodegradable polymer,” Professor Dhakal explained.“Although our findings show that the PLA released fewer microplastics, which means using plant-based plastics instead of oil-based ones might seem like a good idea to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean, we need to be careful as microplastics are still clearly being released and that remains a concern.”Research Findings and Future DirectionsThe research also found that the size and shape of the tiny plastic pieces released depended on the type of plastic. The conventional plastic released smaller pieces and had fewer fiber-like shapes compared to the plant-based plastic.Professor Dhakal added: “Overall our research provides valuable insights into the behavior of different plastic types under environmental stressors, which is important for our future work to tackle plastic pollution. There is a clear need for continued research and proactive measures to mitigate the impact of microplastics on marine ecosystems.”Reference: “Accelerated fragmentation of two thermoplastics (polylactic acid and polypropylene) into microplastics after UV radiation and seawater immersion” by Zhiyue Niu, Marco Curto, Maelenn Le Gall, Elke Demeyer, Jana Asselman, Colin R Janssen, Hom Nath Dhakal, Peter Davies, Ana Isabel Catarino and Gert Everaert, 19 January 2024, Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety.DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2024.115981Professor Dhakal is a member of the Revolution Plastics initiative that has been instrumental in informing national and global policies on plastics, pioneering advanced enzyme recycling techniques, and contributing to critical discussions on the UN treaty to end plastic pollution.The study was led by experts from the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), in Belgium, under collaborative international work within the SeaBioComp project, which received funding from the Interreg 2 Seas Programme co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

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