WEATHER-MIC - How microplastic weathering changes its transport, fate and toxicity in the marine environment

Project leader

Funding source

Formas - The Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2016
End date: 01/07/2016
Funding: 1700000 SEK


Understanding the hazards posed by microplastics in the sea requires understanding the changes they undergo as a result of various environmental weathering processes, like UV exposure, biofilm growth and physical stress. These processes will influence parameters such as their brittleness, density, size and surface charge, which can in turn affect their environmental fate as the microplastics undergo fragmentation, aggregation and ultimately sedimentation or mineralization. As these processes occur, there are a series of tradeoffs of hazard to the marine environment. Changes that lead to fragmentation or mineralization into benign fragments or molecules will reduce potential hazards; though changes that lead to the production of problematic size fractions (e.g. that can accumulate in gills) and release toxic chemicals will increase potential hazards. Similarly, the influence on mobility is also wide-ranging, as some fragments may be soluble while others form aggregates that settle on the seabed.

Last updated on 2017-07-08 at 08:22