Sources, sinks and fate of microplastics in the Strait of Georgia and its urbanized watershed: a solution-oriented natural mesocosm study

Microplastics (MPs) are increasingly concerning from both public and environmental health perspectives. Our team represents a multi-disciplinary network of researchers from several institutions and organizations, including the ocean conservation organization Ocean Wise, three UBC faculties, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Environmental Monitoring and Management Division at Metro Vancouver and Environmental Engineering Services at the City of Vancouver. Collectively, we are uniquely positioned to significantly contribute to inform science-based solutions to plastics in the Canadian environment.This proposal aims to substantially advance technologies to accurately quantify and characterize MPs pollution, including microfibers, in aquatic environments. As land-based activities play a key role in introducing MPs to the ocean, coastal urban watersheds are ideal to apply these technologies and study entry pathways of MPs. The Strait of Georgia is heavily urbanized and sources of contaminants (i.e. stormwater/runoff, atmospheric deposition, combined sewer overflows, rivers and wastewater outfalls) can be well constrained. Our goal is to deliver a comprehensive, solution-oriented research package that combines a) the development of a suite of innovative technologies for the accurate quantification and characterization of MPs in marine waters, plankton and planktivorous fish; b) studies on the sources, transport and fate of MPs in the Strait of Georgia (SoG) and its urbanized watershed; c) experiments on microbial-mediated MPs degradation; d) pioneering predictive models to evaluate the ultimate fate of MPs in SoG. We aim to identify the processes controlling MP dispersal, biological uptake, degradation, sedimentation in SoG, and export to the Pacific Ocean. Our findings will have direct implications for urban management of drainage water and liquid wastewater practices; for the private sector as firms seek to design and manufacture more sustainable materials; and for the consumer and homeowners; and regulators and policymakers working on plastics, material design and trade at the local, national, and international level.

  • Source, Type, and Pathway Characterization
  • Human and Ecological Health

UBC Crest The official logo of the University of British Columbia. Urgent Message An exclamation mark in a speech bubble. Caret An arrowhead indicating direction. Arrow An arrow indicating direction. Arrow in Circle An arrow indicating direction. Arrow in Circle An arrow indicating direction. Chats Two speech clouds. Facebook The logo for the Facebook social media service. Information The letter 'i' in a circle. Instagram The logo for the Instagram social media service. External Link An arrow entering a square. Linkedin The logo for the LinkedIn social media service. Location Pin A map location pin. Mail An envelope. Menu Three horizontal lines indicating a menu. Minus A minus sign. Telephone An antique telephone. Plus A plus symbol indicating more or the ability to add. Search A magnifying glass. Twitter The logo for the Twitter social media service. User A silhouette of a person. Youtube The logo for the YouTube video sharing service.