Can microplastics and associated chemical additives cause long-term effects in aquatic organisms?
The extensive use of plastics by consumers and industry has resulted in increased amount of plastic litter entering and building-up in marine ecosystems. Plastic pollution does not only present a threat by itself, but also may introduce additional hazard due to the presence of chemical additives added during its production. The likely increasing amounts of microplastics and associated chemicals resulting from fragmentation and degradation of marine litter, are one of the less known threats to the marine environment, especially in the long-term. In the NRC funded project MicroLEACH, the long-term effects of microplastics and their additives will be investigated on a selection of marine species found in the Norwegian environment. Within the aim of MicroLEACH, two MSc projects are available to investigate how different animals interact with and take up microplastics, as well as how this interaction can cause long-term effects in exposed animals. Special interest will be directed towards species with ecological and commercial importance, including algae, mussels, worms and fish. Studies will be conducted using microplastics and fragments formed from post-production and fragmentation of larger plastic items to mimic what is happening in the environment. This will allow the identification of which animals are more vulnerable, not only in terms of ecosystem balance, but also economic value. The contribution of the additives themselves will also be investigated.
These projects will be supervised by Tânia Gomes (NIVA) and Maria Hultman (NIVA) in collaboration with Merete Grung (Niva/UiO).