Microplastics are everywhere. They have been found in our rivers, mountains, oceans, and aquifers. But what are microplastics and where do they come from?
Microplastics are particles less than five millimetres in size that deteriorate from larger plastic pieces that have entered the ocean. They leach from a variety of man-made sources such as cosmetics, clothing, and industrial processes, which eventually enter the natural ecosystem, polluting the environment and harming wildlife.
Microplastic - Macrocosm, a workshop as part of our PLASTIC exhibition, aims to raise social awareness about microplastic pollution and encourage action. The workshop will be led by Adrienn Maria Szucs, a PhD student in Geology at Trinity College Dublin who believes ‘protecting the environment starts with understanding environmental issues so we can inform, raise awareness, and empower our community to act on such issues.’
How worried should we be about microplastics? Based on our limited information, we don’t know much about their risk and health impact. What we do know is that we are actively consuming microplastics; they’ve been found in our water, air, and our food.
Participants will have the opportunity to see the presence of microplastics in our immediate surroundings by measuring their content in local tap water and beach sand samples. There will also be a discussion following an informative presentation by Adrienn.
Adrienn is a PhD student in Geology at Trinity College Dublin with a background in Environmental Sciences and Agricultural Engineering. Adrienn has always been concerned about environmental issues since a healthy environment is essential to support life and human survival. She believes that protecting the environment starts with understanding environmental issues so we can inform, raise awareness and empower our community to act.
This workshop was developed by Dr Quentin Crowley. Quentin is an Associate Professor in the School of Natural Sciences, and Director of the Trinity Centre for the Environment. His research investigates environmental change through time, which includes both natural and anthropogenic systems. His research has helped to develop new methodologies for detecting microplastics in the oceans and drinking water. This has led to a better understanding of microplastics as emerging contaminants, and their impact on the environment and human health.
Tim Keenan is a Masters student in Environmental Sciences at Trinity College Dublin with an interest in anthropogenic pollution of the natural environment and the associated cascading impacts. Tim has a background in microplastic research and has co-ordinated a project that tested the effects of sludge spreading as a vector for microplastic transport in Irish agricultural settings, which yielded positive results for microplastic presence. Given the scale of the plastic dilemma we are faced with today, Tim believes the first step towards a sustainable future is to tackle the issue from the source and educate the public on the importance of making informed decisions in relation to plastic consumption.