The complexity of microplastic pollution

Matt Turley picOur very own Matt Turley, PhD student at the Aquatic Research Centre has been on the news!

Matt was interviewed on Channel 5 news about the dangers of microplastics, following a report issued by The Environmental Audit Committee of the House of Commons. The report calls for the government to ban the use of microplastics in cosmetic products, due to the available evidence on the impacts to the marine environment.

Scientists from the Aquatic Research Centre at the University of Brighton are backing calls for a ban on ‘microbeads’ – particles of plastic used in a number of cosmetics and cleaning products, which end up in lakes, rivers and the ocean.

Matt, who is researching the problem, said: “Microplastics do not biodegrade, and so they accumulate in the marine environment and are extremely costly and difficult, if not impossible, to clean up.  A ban on the use of microplastics in personal care products in the UK is a step in the right direction to reducing further inputs of plastic to the marine environment and to begin to address the wider problems of marine plastic pollution.

“Globally, approximately 300 million tonnes of plastic are manufactured annually. In a single year, the amount of plastic pollution entering the oceans has been estimated at between 4.8 million tonnes and 12.7 million tonnes, and around 80 per cent of this is thought to be introduced through land-based activities.

“Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic less than 5mm. Despite their small size, these microplastics have been identified as a significant form of pollution with the potential to impact marine animals and the wider ecosystem. Their sources are numerous and include particles that arise following the physical and chemical breakdown of larger pieces of plastic debris, industrial spillages and products, as well as household items such as synthetic clothing or personal care products. Continue reading