Between January 12th and 15th, 2014 the “International Workshop on Fate and Impact of Microplastics in Marine Ecosystems” took place in Plouzane, France.
There were a number of different themes at the conference related to microplastics in the marine environment including: distribution of microplastics, interactions with marine organisms, impacts on marine organisms and microplastics as a vector for biological and chemical pollutants.
There were over 30 oral presentation and over 60 posters presented by participants. The first day of the conference. Over the three days there were talks, posters, visits from local school children and plenty of delicious french food, and wine.
The workshop was attended by a diverse group of researchers, including undergraduate, masters students, PhD students, senior researchers and professors, from all around the world.
Day one of the conference was under the theme “Microplastics in the marine environment”
Researchers presented studies on 1) Occurrence and sources, 2) Microplastics ingestion by marine biota, 3) Methods development and validation, 4) Cooperation with citizens and NGOs
Take home messages:
- Plastic is abundant and widespread all around the world
- there are many different sources of microplastics, rivers act as an important transport pathway
- There is a link between the amount of plastic found in the environment and the amount of plastic found in biota (Natalie Welden, research in the Clyde, Scotland)
- New methods were proposed, but we need harmonisation and precautions must be taken when extrapolating or comparing field data on environmental contamination by microplastics.
- Cooperation with citizens and NGOs is important to raise awareness.
Day two focused on “Impacts of microplastics on the marine life”
Take home messages
- Microplastics can be ingested by several marine organisms and lead to deleterious effects.
- All animals exposed to microplastics appear to ingest/absorb/take in microplastics
- Controlled lab exposures are required to evaluate these mechanisms and the biological effects of microplastics.
- Microplastics may impact the energy levels of some organisms, for example Arenicola marina.
- Trophic transfer may occur in the food chain.
“Microplastics as vectors for biological and chemical contaminants”
Take home messages:
- Plasticisers, waterborne pollutants and microorganisms can adhere to microplastics
- Adsorption / desorption rates onto microplastics are pollutant and polymer dependent.
- Microplastics may modify the bioavailability, the bioaccumulation and the toxicity of waterborne pollutants in marine organisms
- microorganisms can colonize plastic
Click here for the Book of Abstracts
Find out more about the conference here
Group picture of the attendees of Micro 2014, in Plouzane, France.