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Microplastics - an environmental threat?

 

Microplastics are a subject receiving much attention, both within the research field and within society. But what is the current state of knowledge concerning microplastics? What are their sources? How are they spread? Where do they go? What effects do they cause? Do they pose a threat? These questions was discussed at a FRAM seminar with Bethanie Carney Almroth.

Plastics make up a group of fantastic materials that have revolutionized our society, and their use in medical applications, technology, transport, food safety, water access, etc. has greatly advanced human health. However, production and usage of plastics in society has increased greatly, as has the spread of plastics in all environments on Earth.

Plastics are also known to contain thousands of chemicals, many of which are known to, or suspected to cause negative human health effects. The occurrence of plastic litter and debris in the marine environment also has a great impact on marine life as well as on fisheries, tourism and transport, to great economic costs. However, this macroplastic is not the only question of concern on the public and political agenda.

Microplastics are a subject receiving much attention, both within the research field and within society. But what is the current state of knowledge concerning microplastics? What are their sources? How are they spread? Where do they go? What effects do they cause? Do they pose a threat? These questions was discussed in the FRAM seminar held on the 12 July, 2017.

Lecturer was Bethanie Carney Almroth, a member of the Fish Ecotoxicology group at the department of Biological and Environmental Sciences. Her research has focused on oxidative stress, aquatic ecotoxicology and environmental pollution, using fish as models. She is currently leading several research projects aimed at defining the effects of microplastic pollution on fish, A sea of plastic, iMPACT, and Clean Coastline (Renkustlinje) funded by Formas and Interreg. These projects address the sources, spread, and effects of both the microparticles as well as associated chemicals on fish. An additional project will assess the risks associated with chemicals in plastic food packaging. She is a member of two strong research centers at GU - the FRAM center for future chemical risk assessment and management strategies, and CeCar, the centre for collective action research.