Is microplastic pollution really a major risk to the environment?
Plastic is found everywhere in our environment, ranging from large pieces of macroplastics to smaller particles, such as nano- (<100 nm) and microplastics (>100 nm and <5 mm). This has caused significant societal concerns, and ongoing media attention. But what are the actual risks of plastics in the environment? Should there really be this much emphasis on plastic pollution, or is it distracting from other, more pressing environmental issues?
During this lecture Thijs Bosker will discuss how environmental scientists assess the risk of plastic pollution, with a focus on microplastics. He will use examples from his own research (which includes a citizen science project) to illustrate how the distribution of plastic, and the uptake and effects on organisms (from whales to water fleas) are determined, and what we currently now about the risks of microplastics.
Based on this information, Bosker will position the risk on plastic pollution in relation to other key environmental threats, and highlight why environmental issues are so difficult to tackle. Finally, he will open up the floor for a discussion with the audience on this issue.
Thijs Bosker is an Associate Professor in Environmental Sciences at Leiden University. In his research he uses laboratory and field techniques to study the impact of contaminants on the health of ecosystems, with a focus on stress-on-stress scenarios under estuarine conditions. He conducts his research in Canada, the US, the Caribbean and the Netherlands.