University of Guelph Microplastics

A group of researchers from the University of Guelph, Algoma University, McMaster University, and Environment and Climate Change Canada are working to understand the potential effects of microplastics on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems

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Research

A grant from the Plastics Science for a Clearer Future program jointly run by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has allowed our group of researchers and graduate students to work together on investigating the effects of microplastics on biota in Canada's freshwater and soil ecosystems. 

Our project will quantify and characterize the microplastics found in wastewaters, biosolids, soils, rivers, and various aquatic and terrestrial species (e.g., earthworms, freshwater mussels). The project will also investigate the effects of microplastics of different sizes and made from differential materials on aquatic and terrestrial biota. This research will involve experiments with different lifes stages of freshwater mussels, emergent mayfly larvae, freshwater snails, earthworms, sediment-dwelling worms, terrestrial isopods, springtails, plants, mycorrhizal fungi, and soil microbial communities.  

 

It is important to know the location and quantities of microplastics in the environment as well as the quantity at which microplastics begin to cause adverse effects to species inhabiting our environment. Data on exposure and effects are central to the process of assessing the risk associated with exposure to these potential contaminants in the various environmental compartments. Data on exposure and effects is central to the process of ecological risk assessment. A central goal of this project is to provide exposure and effects data that can be used to perform an ecological risk assessment on microplastics in Canada's freshwater and soil ecosystems. Two types of ecosystems that Canada's depend on. 

To read more about our team and our research:

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Image courtesy of Dr. Pedro Antunes