Final results of four JPI Oceans microplastics projects presented | JPI OCEANS

Final results of four JPI Oceans microplastics projects presented

2019.01.23

Final results of four JPI Oceans microplastics projects presented

How does plastic degrade in the ocean? What effects does it have on the organisms and ecosystems? Do particles carry other pollutants? And how to standardise the way we study microplastics? The four JPI Oceans funded projects studying microplastics presented and discussed their results at their joint final meeting. 
On 20 November, the research projects BASEMAN, WEATHER-MIC, EPHEMARE and PLASTOX presented the key findings of their almost three years of investigation at a dedicated day alongside the MICRO2018 conference on Lanzarote. In front of approximately 150 participants, the four projects, which have been running since January 2016 and were jointly funded by ten JPI Oceans member countries, outlined and discussed their main scientific outputs, publications and reports. 
 
BASEMAN partners showed that they had defined baselines for all relevant identification approaches of microplastics, evaluated their strengths and limitations and developed their methods. They showed how they had conducted inter-laboratory and inter-method comparisons. And finally that they have developed standardised protocols for sampling and monitoring microplastics, including best practice guidelines.
 
WEATHER-MIC project showed the multiple factors influencing the weathering process by characterization of plastic particles over time, including degradation products. They also studied effects of weathering on the spatial and temporal distribution of plastic debris, as well as adverse effects and mechanisms by which plastic particles and their degradation products affect biological systems. Moreover, partners elucidated the role of biofilms in aggregation, sedimentation, exposure, uptake and effects of plastic particles in marine organisms.
 
The PLASTOX project has characterised and quantified microplastic uptake, retention and excretion and potential for trophic transfer. It determined acute and sub-lethal ecotoxicological effects on key marine species, quantified the adsorption of Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and metals to microplastics and desorption of plastic additives and assessed the role of POP and metal adsorption/desorption on microplastic eco-toxicity.
 
EPHEMARE has demonstrated that microplastic particles are easily ingested, but also easily egested by filter-feeders and predators. While microplastics may act as vectors of pollutants, they do not increase bioavailability and effects of model chemicals compared to natural particulate matter. The project showed that particles are transferred from preys to predators but they are egested and do not bio-accumulate in predators. EPHEMARE developed methods based on chronic effects suitable to assess the toxicity of environmental microplastics.
 
The presentations were followed by discussions on topics that all four projects had addressed or delivered some inputs on. These comprised the standardisation of methods, the weathering and degradation of microplastics, their ecotoxicological impacts on marine organisms, as well as the role of additives and adsorbed pollutants. The detailed projects results will be made public in their final reports that will be completed within six months of the end of the projects. It was evident, however, that not all relevant questions have been addressed in the four projects and the knowledge and understanding of smaller microplastic particles (from 10 µm to very small particles - nanoparticles) in particular remains limited.
 
The final session of the day was co-organised with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive Technical Subgroup on Marine Litter. Georg Hanke (JRC) presented the ongoing work of their position paper microlitter monitoring to which all four projects have substantially contributed, and led the discussion on several open questions.
 
The meeting was closed by the launch of the second JPI Oceans joint call “Sources, distribution and impact of microplastics in the marine environment”, which 15 countries launched with a budget of 10.5m EUR. 
 

Short final reports projects:


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