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Occurrence and fate of microplastics in river catchments

  • Full or part time
    Dr Paul Kay
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, January 07, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Microplastics are tiny plastic fragments which originate from the decomposition of plastic products such as bottles and textiles or which are intentionally used in other products including cosmetics (Figure 1). They have been monitored mainly in the marine environment but work in freshwaters is only just beginning (Kay et al., 2018; Wagner et al., 2014; Eerkes-Medrano et al., 2015). Very little is known about where microplastics occur in river catchments and which areas are key sources of them. Similarly, almost nothing is known about their behaviour once they enter river channels. This is of particular concern given that microplastics can be ingested by wildlife, representing a physical hazard and a source of potentially toxic chemicals.
The overall aim of this project is to better understand the occurrence and fate of microplastics in river catchments. The specific objectives are to:
1. Measure the occurrence of a range of microplastics throughout river catchments.
2. Quantify the extent to which difference land uses and human activities are associated with the occurrence of microplastics and their make-up.
3. Study the fate of microplastics in rivers and relate this to microplastic and river physical characteristics.

Funding Notes

This project is available funding through the Panorama NERC DTP which includes the Universities of Leeds, York and Hull. This project would be based in the School of Geography, University of Leeds View Website

NERC DTP studentships cover UK/EU fees and a maintenance stipend for 3.5 years View Website

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