Microplastics in urban rivers

Theme: Environmental Pollution

Main Supervisor:

Geraldene Wharton

Geography, QMUL

Second Supervisor:

Mark Scrimshaw

Institute of Environment, Health and Societies, BRUNEL

Project Description:

Urban rivers are an important asset to the community and as habitat for a diverse range of species. They are under pressure from a diverse range of pollutants, and input sources including urban run-off, misconnections and wastewater discharges. The occurrence of microplastics in the environment is well documented, however, their significance in urban surface waters is not known.

This project will use a range of analytical methods developed at Queen Mary and Brunel to study the sources and fate of microplastics in urban rivers. The analytical work for microplastics will link with understanding of fine sediment transport dynamics to determine how microplastic particles are transported in the environment. This will allow for assessment of how their inputs, or transport along rivers may best be controlled. As understanding of their transport develops, working closely with stakeholders involved in catchment management, a range of interventions to improve urban water quality are at present available for evaluation in field studies.

There will be opportunities to utilise field studies and catchment modelling approaches to determine the best management options through working with project partners Thames21 and other stakeholders.

Policy Impact of Research:

The work will inform on the pathways and fluxes of microplastics in the urban environment and allow for development of strategies to reduce inputs and / or control transport. Best practice outcomes will be disseminated through stakeholders through the catchment partnerships.

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