Microplastics are small pieces of plastic less than 5mm (nanoplastics are 50µm-5mm) including of ‘nurdles’ (preproduction plastic pellets), ‘biobeads’ (nurdle size beads used in sewage treatment), microbeads and microfibers. The plastics come from a range of sources; cosmetics, sanitary items, clothing and road run off.
Estuaries and Microplastics
There have been a number of discrete projects looking at the microplastic content of the river and estuary;
- Kings College have found levels of microplastics in the sediment
- Royal Holloway and Natural History Museum have found microfibres in the stomachs of the aquatic life in the Estuary
- Exxpedition Round Britain 2017 carried out one trawl and found over 100 microbeads in the sample, a significant order higher than they found elsewhere.
- ZSL are currently monitoring spawning locations of fish species, the smelt, in the upper tidal river and are providing samples to Royal Holloway to discover the content of micro plastics.
There has been no strategic or temporal study of microbeads on the Thames or Medway Estuaries. However with the ban coming in 2018 presents a key point to start to monitor the improvement such interventions make on the environment.
Specific sites will be given to confirmed attendees, timings are for planning purposes. Weather may cause surveying to be cancelled.
Samples and dates
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