The first results of our Citizen Science project will be published later this month. In the publication we analysed levels of microplastics across Europe, using the samples provided by participants. As a sneak preview see the following picture with results:
Thanks for sending us all the samples!!
A great source with background on plastic contamination.
We published a new paper on our citizen science project, and the work in the Netherlands and on the Lesser Antilles.
Figure showing sampling locations on project
Abstract: Microplastics (<5 mm) are contaminants of emerging global concern. They have received considerable attention in scientific research, resulting in an increased awareness of the issue among politicians and the general public. However, there has been significant variation in sampling and extraction procedures used to quantify microplastics levels. The difference in extraction procedures can especially impact study outcomes, making it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to directly compare results among studies. To address this, we recently developed a standard operating procedure (SOP) for sampling microplastics on beaches. We are now assessing regional and global variations in beach microplastics using this standardized approach for 2 research projects. Our first project involves the general public through citizen science. Participants collect sand samples from beaches using a basic protocol, and we subsequently extract and quantify microplastics in a central laboratory using the SOP. Presently, we have 80+ samples from around the world and expect this number to further increase. Second, we are conducting 2, in-depth, regional case studies: one along the Dutch coast (close to major rivers, a known source of microplastic input into marine systems), and the other on the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean (in the proximity to a hotspot of plastics in the North Atlantic Ocean). In both projects, we use our new SOP to determine regional variation in microplastics, including differences in physicochemical characteristics such as size, shape, and polymer type. Our research will provide, for the first time, a systematic comparison on levels of microplastics on beaches at both a regional and global scale.
We published new research on the uptake and effect of microplastics on zebrafish embryos and larvae. The main take home messages:
- Zebrafish larvae exposed to PS particles had minimal biodistribution.
- Internalized particles caused an immune response by activating the complement system.
- Enriched toxicity pathways for lipid metabolism and oxidative stress were detected.
- Our results can be used to develop Adverse Outcome Pathways for microplastics.
Figure showing uptake of polystyrene particles by neutrophils using fluorescence microscopy.
An interesting discovery from scientist at Cambridge University. A moth which is able to eat plastic.
Our research on microplastics was featured in a recent article in de Mare the newspaper of Leiden University. For the article, please click here
Recently we were visited by students from Transvaal University, an enrichment programme for low-income children in Transvaal neighborhood in the city of The Hague. Transvaal University is an initiative of the primary school ‘Het Galjoen’ and community centre ‘Boerenplein’ in the Transvaal district in The Hague. Every Saturday morning a class of fifteen eager students are taught a variety of different (socially oriented) subjects in order to enhance the talents and skill-sets of these children. I gave a workshop on microplastic and plastic pollution in the aquatic systems, and linked it to possible effects on fish. As part of the class we dissected a fish with the kids, and discussed how plastics and other pollutants can cause harm to organisms.