Microplastics Detection and Degradation
Microplastics are chemical contaminants of emerging concern, which have been linked to numerous health issues including oxidative stress, cytotoxicity, neurotoxicity, immune system disruption, growth and development inhibition, metabolic disorder and genotoxicity. They have also been shown to have a negative impact on the mammalian gut microbiome. Microplastics can also act as a medium for the transmission of chemical and microbial contaminants. Plastics released to the environment undergo fragmentation and transform into microplastics due to various stressors. Additionally, microplastics may be released into the environment through capsules, personal care products, microbeads or microspheres in cosmetics, cleaning agents and more. An estimated 13 million tonnes of plastics are transferred into water sources. The WHO recently called for more research on the source and concentration of microplastics in drinking water. Although microplastics have been found in Canadian aquatic systems, their fate and transfer have not been thoroughly studied. Our lab aims to investigate microplastic prevalence in freshwater sources in BC as well as potential degradation methods within treatment systems, including UV degradation.