Project description: Microplastics are a fast emerging class of pollutants emanating from human domestic, industrial, and, other ancillary activities. This is especially true in large urban aggregations with large populations such as Lagos, Nigeria. This projects is intended to establish presences, types, and ubiquity of occurrence of microplastics in the Lagos lagoon while concurrently establishing ecotoxicological implications if any.
Plastics in the Environment – Sources • Sinks • Solutions
Project description: Plastics in the environment are a global problem and the evidence for this is hard to miss: huge waste deposits are seen in the oceans even in remote areas of the Arctic, plastic particles are found in the stomachs of fish and seabirds, and plastics of all sizes and shapes are clearly visible on almost any beach around the world.
Despite a range of activities and approaches, our knowledge of the full extent of plastic pollution is still limited: there is not enough validated knowledge on the origins of plastics in the ocean, their behaviour in oceans, inland waters and soils, and how they could affect animals and humans.
Germany’s Federal Ministry for Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung – BMBF) addresses this issue with its current research focus, an initiative called “Plastics in the Environment – Sources • Sinks • Solutions”. The BMBF is thus supporting the transition to a resource and environmentally friendly economy, which is at the heart of the flagship initiative Green Economy within the BMBF-framework programme ”Research for Sustainable Development” (FONA). With this research focus, the BMBF expands on work conducted in previous funding measures, e.g.: the international funding programme investigating microplastics in the oceans (part of JPI OCEANS), the ongoing joint research project “Microplastics in the water cycle” (MiWa) (part of the funding priority Sustainable Water Management), as well as the Social-ecological Junior Research Group PlastX working in this area.
The interdisciplinary nature of the research focus will enable a better understanding of the environmental impacts of plastic waste from river basins all the way to the oceans. The aim of the research is a first and comprehensive scientific assessment of the problem of plastic waste and to fill in existing knowledge gaps. In addition, solutions for reducing the emission of plastics into the environment are identified and implemented. For this purpose, the entire value chain of plastics, from production and use to disposal, is examined in order to identify opportunities for improvement and options for action, especially in an international context.
In the period of 2017–2021, a total of 18 joint research projects and an accompanying scientific project will be funded with around €35 million. More than 100 institutions from science, industry , civil society, and public administration are involved in what is currently the world‘s largest research focus in the field of the effects of plastic on the environment.
The goal of the BMBF’s research focus “Plastic in the Environment – sources, sinks and solutions” is to develop and establish scientific procedures, methods, instruments and concepts for investigating plastics in the environment. This involves
creating a consistent picture of the overall problem and making it the basis for international action
identifying, developing, and implementing solutions to the problem together with relevant political, economic and social actors
starting projects to reduce entry of plastics into the environment in cooperation with international partners from countries that constitute the most important producers and consumers of plastic
The overarching, long-term goal is to noticeably reduce the amount of plastics in the environment.
Project name: Spatial and temporal distribution of microplastics in the Ottawa River, Canada.
Project description: My proposed PhD research will sample the water and sediment at numerous selected locations throughout the Ottawa River watershed. Important point sources of microplastics to river ecosystems will be established, such as wastewater treatment plants, stormwater outfalls and where tributaries enter the Ottawa River. Once important point sources are established, sampling will be conducted through each season to determine any temporal variation in microplastic concentration in the river. Moreover, a currently established citizen science collaboration will enhance the spatial coverage of the research whereby volunteers will sample for microplastics over a 600 kilometer stretch of the Ottawa Valley and submit results for the current research.
Project name: New approach to detect and quantify PAEs in marine environments, Accumulate in filter-feeding invertebrates
Project description: Plastic fragments from various sizes polluting the ocean are increasing significantly each year, having a devastating effect on the marine environment. Efforts are directed for estimating the amount of plastic and micro-plastic present in the ocean, and studying its impact on marine ecosystem. A major problem that negatively affects marine organisms, caused by plastic residues, is the release of phthalates to the aquatic phase.
Ascidians are marine filter-feeding invertebrates, which are very common around the world. Being immobile and able to filter high volumes of water, ascidians have a unique potential to act as a natural biological filter for micro-plastic suspended in the water column and bioaccumulation of phthalates released inside the organisms’ body .
An innovative analytical method was developed for the detection and quantification of phthalates in ascidians soft tissue. This method is based on the extraction of phthalates from tissues using Accelerated Solvent Extractor (ASE), and GC/MS for detection and quantification. The results obtained so far indicate large quantities of phthalates in the organisms’ body, much more than reported on similar studies in the past, and demonstrating some differences between independent sampling sites in east Mediterranean and the tropic red sea.
Project name: Since 2014, Johnny Gasperi and Bruno Tassin launched different research projects on the plastic litter issue, i.e. Plastic-Seine, Plastic-Air, Micro-Plast, etc.
The researches carried out aimed at investigating the sources, fluxes, and fate of plastic debris – from macroplastics to microplastics – in urban area and hydrosystems, including the receiving anthropized water. The final objective is i) to provide knowledge on the abundance and characterization of plastic debris in urban sources (wastewater, runoff, atmospheric deposition, etc.), ii) to assess plastic debris fluxes, and iii) to evaluate the contribution of the greater Paris area compared to the Seine river catchment.
Various, we have a number of projects involving plastic pollution/marine debris. If you want to list a single project, perhaps use Global Plastics Project
Our team takes a risk-based approach to addressing the plastic pollution problem. We focus on sources and drivers (where does it come from, why is it lost into the environment), the dynamics and distribution of mis-managed waste, the impacts resulting from debris (whether economic, social, biodiversity; also including how and where impacts occur), and the management responses (mitigation or management may respond to the impacts, which in turn, affects the sources and drivers).
EI-GEO (Environmental impact of geosynthetics in aquatic systems)
Geosynthetics are widely used in hydraulic engineering in aquatic ecosystems such as in revetment measures for coastal protection or in ballast layers for wind energy plants. An increasing application of geosynthetics is observed due to expansion of offshore wind energy generation and protection to rising water levels and more extreme weather conditions because of climate change. While providing various economic and technical benefits, the application of geosynthetics in hydraulic engineering projects has been questioned recently as these materials might degrade during their lifetime and induce a hazardous impact on the aquatic environment in a long term especially as the origin of plastic debris or as source/sink for chemicals such as plasticizers and stabilizers used in the production of geosynthetics to improve their performance.
The project is aimed at a contribution to the risk assessment of the application of geosynthetics in hydraulic engineering. Accelerated artificial ageing of geotextiles used in marine applications will be applied in a laboratory scale and the performance characteristics will be compared with the virgin material. A combination of mechanical, chemical and microbiological stress will be simulated. Additionally, the leaching behavior in relation to the ongoing ageing process as well as the ecotoxicological impact of leachates in marine environment will be investigated. The laboratory tasks will be accompanied by a field case study at the Kaliningrad shore.
Simon, F.-G., Chubarenko, B. and Purina, I. (2018). Approach for analysis of environmental impact of geosynthetics in aquatic systems by example of the Baltic Sea, 7th IEEE/OES Baltic Symposium, Clean and Safe Baltic Sea and Energy Security for the Baltic countries, Klaipeda, Litauen, 12.-15.06.2018.
Project name: “Regional modelling of MP in agricultural soils” and “Hydrological modelling of diffuse and point source MP-inputs into river catchments”
Project description: Although most of the microplastics (MP) reaches the marine environment via river systems, only little reliable data is available about the MP input into rivers. Methodological approaches for determining inland MP sources and input pathways on catchment level are a prerequisite for developing strategies to reduce plastic emissions by river runoff to coastal areas.
The Thünen Institute of Rural Studies and the Agrosphere Institute of the Forschungzentrum Jülich develope a modelling framework to analyze MP emissions into the Weser (PLAWES project) river and the Warnow river (MicroCatch_Balt project) in two interdisciplinary research projects.. Both
projects are part of the framework program “Research for Sustainable Development” (FONA) funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).
In both projects, the Thünen Institute analyses MP immissions into agricultural soils from different MP sources (e.g., from sewage sludge, compost) and the associated potential for MP enrichment. The methodological approach is based on the Regionalized Agricultural and Environmental Information System (RAUMIS).
In the same projects, the Forschungszentrum Jülich focuses on the spatially resolved quantification of diffuse and point source micro-plastic inputs into the Warnow and Weser river systems down to their coastal waters and the identification of hot-spot areas within the catchment areas. For this purpose, the hydrological model mGROWA will be used to depict the spatial variability of the hydrological conditions in high temporal (daily) resolution and identify the relevant water-borne micro-plastic input pathways. The MEPhos model concept will be used to derive MP export coefficients specific for relevant sources and pathways.
References: Herrmann, F., Keller, L., Kunkel, R., Vereecken, H. & Wendland, F. (2015): Determination of spatially differentiated water balance components including groundwater recharge on the Federal State level – A case study using the mGROWA model in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany).- Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, pp 294-312.
Kreins, P., Gömann, H., Heidecke, C., Hirt, U., Wendland, F. (2010): Modelling network for analysing diffuse nitrogen leaching reduction in agriculture to meet the targets of the water framework directive in the Weser River Basin of Germany. In: Steusloff H (ed) IWRM Integrated Water Resources Management Karlsruhe 2010 : Karlsruhe: KIT Scientific Publishing, pp 200-206.
Tetzlaff, B., H. Vereecken, R. Kunkel & F. Wendland (2009): Modelling phosphorus inputs from agricultural sources and urban areas in river basins. Environmental Geology, 57, pp 183-193.
Project description: The project is a 3 year project funded by the Danish Velux foundation. It includes partners from academia, NGOs and industry. The aim of the project is to assess sources of plastic pollution, environmental concentrations, impact on environment and related ecosystem services and possible mitigation efforts (both technical and political). We furthermore work with local citizens in several different citizen science activities.
Other focus areas: Apart from the external fundend project above we work with a number of topics related to plastic pollution. These include: Vector effects of plastics and other contaminants, direct effects of microplastic, effects of nanoplastics, Monitoring studies (marine, freshwater and soil), reduction in plastic consumption, regulation of plastic pollution and application of citizen science relatd to plastic pollution.
We currently have 10-15 published papers on plastic pollution in our group (including those linked to under the Roskilde Fjord project)