There has been a lot of talk lately about MICROPLASTICS.

But what are they and where do they come from?

Miroplastics are extremely small (5mm or less) pieces of plastic debris in the environment.

Image source: https://mitte.co/2018/03/20/microplastics-threat/

Don’t be deceived by their small size – they are a BIG problem.

They are so small that they skip water filtration processes and sneak their way through wastewater treatment – they escape into our environment.

They are released through everyday products like:

  • Soaps
  • Shower gels
  • Facial Scrubs
  • Clothing during normal washing

To dig deeper into the problem of microplastics, we need to do thorough research on the subject to determine the risks.

Trent University graduate student Brett Roblin is currently completing his degree in the Masters of Environmental and Life Science Program in the subject.

His research focused on MICROFIBRES – small, thread like particles, which is the dominant type of microplastic.

Most research to date has focused on microfibers entering the marine environment, like our oceans. However, there hasn’t been many studies conducted on the presence of microplastics in other natural areas.

Brett’s research focused on understanding the amount of microfibres present in remote areas.

He collected rainfall, moss, lake water, and lake sediment from remote locations in Ireland.

He analyzed rainfall samples from four different meteorological stations, as well as moss, lake water and lake sediment sourced from 3 different catchments in Ireland.

Brett’s research determined that synthetic microfibres were present in rainfall, moss, lake water and lake sediments in these areas – and more research needs to be completed to understand how much and how harmful microfibres are to remote environments.

Photograph: a-ts/Alamy Stock Photo

We know plastics are everywhere – from polyester clothes and packaging that our food contains. Even the materials in our homes have plastics – and these tiny plastics can make their way up the food chain – and our health can be negatively impacted by their consumption.

Brett’s research has helped determine that microfibres are found in remote areas as well – there is no safe place to hide – they can be carried everywhere.

What can you do?

  • Refuse plastics whenever and wherever possible
  • Switch plastic products out for glass/metal drink containers
  • Choose wool over synthetic garments
  • Be informed
  • Participate in shoreline cleanups

Thank you Brett for sharing your research on this important subject studied at Trent University!

“Trent University has allowed me to experience a variety of different research opportunities and given me the chance to explore a novel topic like microplastics and microfibres. My graduate life experience has created many memories alongside other graduate students as we grinded to finish our masters.”

Featured image source: Florida Sea Grant, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0