Textile microplastics: causes and cures – improving our understanding of the drivers of fibre loss during washing (PhD Project)

Distribution of microplastics in the Scottish marine environment (PhD Project)

This PhD will investigate the prevalence and distribution of microplastics by examining water, sediments and biological samples from a suite of pre-determined locations along the Scottish coastline. Comparisons will be made between rural areas (low population density/small-scale industries) and heavily commercialised regions to elucidate differences between regions, with the expectation that commercial regions have higher levels of microplastics. The potential interaction and impact of microplastics with the bivalve aquaculture sector shall also be investigated. As this is a relatively new area of research, methods for the collection and separation of microplastics from water, sediment and biota samples will need to be developed and validated. Particle-based transport models will be developed, using existing hydrodynamic models and a range of particle behaviours, to predict microplastic distributions and hotspots. Initially, this modelling will be carried out at a national scale using Scottish Shelf Model climatology and hypothetical source regions. Smaller scale models, where available, will be used to investigate local distributions.  (…)

The student will be supervised by Dr Bhavani Narayanaswamy (SAMS – UHI), Dr Neil James (ERI-UHI) and Dr Andrew Dale (SAMS – UHI), in collaboration with Dr Brian Quinn University of the West of Scotland.Deadline 8/05/2017


Altération de la physiologie des poissons exposés à des hydrocarbures aromatiques polycycliques (HAP) : comportement et reproduction

Les hydrocarbures aromatiques polycycliques (HAP) sont des polluants organiques persistants qui sont présents en mélange complexe dans l’environnement et notamment dans les milieux aquatiques. Ils s’adsorbent sur les particules en suspension, s’accumulent dans les sédiments et dans les premiers maillons de la chaîne trophique. L’objectif de cette étude était de mesurer les effets à long terme d’une contamination par des HAP chez un modèle de vertébrés : le poisson zèbre. Dans un premier temps, des embryons ont été exposés pendant les 4 premiers jours de leur développement sur du sédiment naturel enrobé de 3 HAP individuel (phénanthrène, pyrène et benzo[a]pyrène) puis transférés et élevés en eau propre. Dans un deuxième temps, des poissons ont été exposés par voie alimentaire tout au long du cycle de vie et dès le premier repas à 3 fractions de HAP à doses environnementales enrobées sur les aliments : une fraction pyrolytique (PY) extraite d’un sédiment échantillonné dans la Seine et deux fractions pétrogéniques (un fuel lourd (HO) provenant de l’Erika et un pétrole brut type Arabian light (LO)). Les effets à long terme sur la croissance, la survie, la reproduction et le comportement ont été évalués à différents âges. (…)

Thèse de doctorat en Physiologie, Biologie des organismes, Populations, Interactions, Caroline Vignet, soutenue le 11-02-2014 à La Rochelle, sous la direction de Xavier Cousin.

Long term physiological disruptions in fish after exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) : behavior and reproduction

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are persistent organic pollutants (POPs) which are found in complex mixtures in the environment including aquatic ecosystems. They adsorb on particles, accumulate in sediment and in the first link of the food web. The aim of this study was to measure long term effects of PAHs contamination on a vertebrate model : the zebrafish. In a first study, embryos were exposed on natural sediment spiked with 3 individual PAH (phenanthrene, pyrene and benzo[a]pyrene) during the first four days of their development. In a second study, to evaluate the consequences of long-term chronic exposure to PAHs, zebrafish were exposed, from their first meal (5 days post fertilisation) until they became reproducing adults, to diets spiked with three PAHs fractions at environmentally relevant concentrations (0.3X, 1X and 3X; with the 1X concentration being in the range of 4.6-6.7 μg.g-1 for total quantified PAHs). The fractions used were representative of PAHs of pyrolytic (PY) origin or of two different oils of differing compositions (a heavy fuel (HO) and a light crude oil (LO)). Long term effects on growth, survival, reproduction and behavior were evaluated at different ages. (…)

Evaluating the potential of microplastics ingestion to harm the sea cucumber Holothuria sanctori : Results and implications of a feeding experiment conducted on Madeira Island

The omnipresence of microplastic particles (< 5 mm) in the marine environment has raised concerns about their potential to harm organisms both physically and chemically, for example via the transfer of pollutants adsorbed from seawater. While many species are able to ingest microplastics, little is known about the consequences. Moreover, previous studies have mostly applied exaggerated scenarios of microplastics concentrations or associated pollution levels. The present study investigated the potential effects of microplastics ingestion under more realistic conditions. We exposed the sea cucumber Holothuria sanctori – a prevalent deposit feeder of the rocky shores around Madeira Island – to an environmentally relevant concentration of microplastic particles in the feeding sediment for 2 months. The polystyrene beads used as model microplastics were previously exposed in situ to seawater with different levels of pollution (low and high). (…)

Jenni Lisa Grossmann, Master thesis, Institute for Hydrobiology and Fisheries Science, University of Hamburg, 2014

The thesis

Microplastic pollution in the Clyde sea area: a study using the indicator species Nephrops norvegicus

Microplastic pollution has been identified as an ever increasing proportion of marine litter. Despite an increase in microplastic awareness over the last decade, it represents an as yet unquantified threat to the marine environment. The relatively few studies that monitor its distribution and impact have illustrated a range of worrying effects on marine habitats and communities. The Clyde Sea Area (CSA) is subject to many sources of terrestrial and maritime plastic input. The use of plastics in recreational and commercial vessels throughout the CSA is believed to result in large levels of microplastic fibres, which have previously been seen to be ingested by a range of marine organisms. In a study of the breakdown of commonly used polymers in benthic environments, it was found that ropes of 10 mm diameter in sub-tidal conditions release between 0.086 and 0.422g of microfibers per meter per month in the early stages of degradation. (…)

Welden, Natalie Ann Cooper, PhD thesis, University of Glasgow, October 2014

The thesis

The occurrence and amount of microplastics ingested by fishes in the watersheds of the Gulf of Mexico

Occurrence and types of microplastics in the digestive system of freshwater fishes could be an emerging environmental crisis because of the proliferation of plastic pollution in aquatic environments. Recent studies report increasing amounts of microplastics in marine systems and in the gut tracts of marine fishes. To date, only one study has reported percent occurrence of microplastics (12%) in the digestive system of freshwater fishes. Purposes of this study were to quantify occurrences and types of microplastics ingested by fishes within the western freshwater drainages of the Gulf Mexico and an estuary of the Gulf of Mexico. My study objectives were (1) to enumerate and identify microplastics from fishes taken from 10 sites and nine freshwater drainages of Texas and harbor, bay, and gulf sites within or near the Laguna Madre of southeast Texas, (2) to compare percent occurrence of microplastics among habitat and trophic guilds of fishes, and (3) to compare percent occurrence of microplastics between urbanized and non-urbanized streams and thus test the hypothesis that fishes from urbanized streams will have greater percent occurrence of microplastics than fishes from non-urbanized streams. Among 535 fishes examined in this study, percent occurrence of microplastics was 8% in freshwater fishes and 10% in marine fishes. Plastic types included polyester, polystyrene, polypropylene, acrylate, and nylon. (…)

Melissa B. Phillips, B.A., A thesis submitted to the Graduate Council of Texas State University, 34 p., December 2014

The thesis

Measuring Marine Litter density, mass and composition – including a case study on land-based litter along the Danube

Marine litter, i.e. solid waste material that enters the marine environment from any source, is an increasing problem, and gains more public attention, when for example the media is reporting of the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’. It furthermore negatively affects environment, economy and society. This thesis presents the results of a literature review of more than 190 scientific articles that determined marine litter quantities and composition at beaches, the sea surface and the sea floor between 2003 and August 2014. Their methods and results are being displayed and, where possible, compared. Thus, this thesis gives an overview of possible methods for monitoring marine macro- and micro-debris, as well as marine litter quantities and composition world-wide. This is completed by an excursus to aquatic litter, i.e. solid waste material present in and along rivers and lakes. A small survey along the bank of the river Danube, south of Vienna, showed that litter quantities and composition are comparable to marine litter on beaches world-wide, although the mass of items found at the Danube was higher per length of coastline than at beaches. The thesis shows that marine litter is ubiquitous and that a combination of different countermeasures will be needed to combat it.

Master’s thesis
Nele Sophie Schüttpelz, Institut für Abfallwirtschaft, Universität für Bodenkultur Wien, 2014

The document