Are microplastics toxic to freshwater organisms?

Hey, so you want to know about my research, great!

I am doing a PhD in Environmental Science at University College Cork (Ireland). I am currently on the second year of a three year EPA funded project. My research expertise lies in the field of Ecotoxicology. Ecotoxicology studies the effects of chemicals or contaminants on organisms, focusing on populations, communities and ecosystems.

The main objective of my PhD project (2017 – 2020) is to explore the impacts of microplastics on freshwater aquatic organisms and ecosystems. It will inform monitoring programmes as well as regulatory policy by identifying those microplastics that may pose risks to the freshwater environment.

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Why freshwater?

I am focussed on freshwater organisms and ecological interactions, since most of the scientific and public attention has been on the marine environment. The project is funded by the Irish EPA, and therefore, I study freshwater species commonly found in Irish waters such as duckweeds or amphipods. I am studying the potential impacts of different plastic polymers, and plastics of different sizes and shapes.  For this, I measure different biological endpoints and trophic interactions, including bioaccumulation. The data generated will inform policy-makers, enabling development of a targeted legislative approach that focusses on those microplastics that are of most environmental concern.

Go to the project’s official website by clicking here.