Plastic litter is pervasive and increasing in land and water environments worldwide, with negative implications for the environment, biota, and humans. In 2013, global plastics production was estimated at 299 million tonnes, a 3.9 % increase from 2012 (Plastics Europe, 2015). Most of this plastic is non-biodegradable and remains as waste in the environment for a long time (European Commission DG Environment, 2011), with approximately 10 % ending up in the oceans (Thompson, 2006) and accounting for 50-90 % of all marine litter (Derraik, 2002). Furthermore, plastics are lightweight and buoyant, and easily transported long distances across a wide range of environments (Coe and Rogers, 1997), rendering them ubiquitous contaminants. Although plastic pollution is not a new problem, of growing concern in recent years are small fractions in the micro and nano-scale (< 5 mm and < 100 nm, respectively). Their recognition as pollutants of emerging concern has led to recent investment in research to understand their distribution, source, fate, and impact in the aquatic environment, with greater focus on the marine environment. However, most of the plastic debris in oceans originates inland, thus the role of freshwater transport vectors, including wastewaters should be considered. To this regard, the aim to this PhD project is to describe and model the behaviour of micro- and nanoplastics (MNPs) in wastewater treatment systems and natural fluvial waters.
Present: PhD “Micro-and Nanoplastics in Wastewater Treatment Systems and Receiving Waters” Supervisors: Professor Susan Waldron, Dr Vernon Phoenix, Dr Caroline Gauchotte-Lindsay
Active research projects:
Blair R, Savin M, Chen P. 2014. Composted and formulated poultry litters promote soil nutrient availability but not plant uptake or edamame quality. Agronomy for Sustainable Development 34:849-856. doi 10.1007/s13593-014-0206-9
Blair R, Savin M, Chen P. 2014. Phosphatase enzyme activities and available nutrients in soil receiving pelletized poultry litter. Soil Science 179: 182-189. doi: 10.1097/SS.0000000000000061