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article imageOmnipresence of microplastics in European rivers revealed

By Tim Sandle     Nov 24, 2019 in Environment
The Tara Ocean Foundation project has revealed the extent of plastic pollution in the rivers of Europe, based on the environmental project's latest analysis. The plastics are adversely impacting marine biodiversity.
Between May and November 2019, the environmental research schooner Tara traversed four European sea fronts and collected samples from nine major rivers in Europe, with the view to assess levels of plastic pollution. The mission collected some 2,700 samples collected during a period of six months across 45 sites positioned between land and sea, drawn from major European rivers like the Thames, Elbe, Rhine, Seine, Ebro, Rhone, Tiber, Garonne, and Loire.
The project aim was identify sources of pollution and to assess the degree of fragmentation of microplastics in rivers. The research scientists involved are also keen to use to data in order to predict the dispersion of microplastics towards towards the ocean.
READ MORE: Time to ban glitter? A microplastic risk
As Digital Journal reported earlier in 2019, the plastic collecting project formed part of a wider project called 'Mission Microplastics 2019'.
The latest Tara voyage was the first project fully focused upon assessing plastic pollution in rivers on a European scale. As well as charting the course of microplastics (and to assess some points of origin - environmental data suggests that 80 percent of plastic pollution originates on land), the environmental mission also aimed to assess the impact of this type of human-created pollution upon marine biodiversity and the wider effects on the food chain.
To assess this a multi-disciplinary approach was required, drawing on marine biologists, ecotoxicologists, oceanographers, modelers, chemists and physicists. This has shown that a high proportion of the collected particles are microbeads, a type of plastic found in many cosmetics and toothpastes.
It is clear, even at the early stage of analysis, that high levels of plastics from land are entering rivers and then into the ocean and these are impacting upon marine life. Subsequent analysis will aim to better understand the phenomena of plastic fragmentation.
More about microplastics, Rivers, Plastic pollution, Tara Ocean Foundation
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