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The training of early stage researchers for the development of technologies to monitor concentrations of micro and nanoplastics in water for their presence, uptake and threat to animal and human life.

Project description

Training to measure health risk of microplastics

Plastic is an important and ubiquitous material in our economy and daily lives. Environmental concerns such as plastic leakage also pose a significant threat to our wellbeing. Reducing the amount of plastic waste generated each year remains a huge challenge. Up to 300 000 tonnes of microplastics are released into the environment each year. The EU-funded MONPLAS project will train early stage researchers to monitor concentrations of micro- and nano-plastics in water for their presence, uptake and threat to animal and human life. The project identified a need to develop suitable technologies that are robust, easy to use and inexpensive for performing standardised measurements, as well as training engineers for method development and operation.


Micro and nanoplastics have recently been found in our soil, tap water, bottled water, beer and even in the air we breathe, with a growing concern about the potential health risks they pose to us. Whether that is through ingesting the harmful bacteria they pick up when coming from wastewater plants, or just through injury and death of cells through contact, possibly through absorption of nanoplastics by cells, we really don’t know. Which is why there is an urgent need for more research on their toxicity and also why a new EC drinking water directive is to be published in 2019 stating that water companies will need to measure concentrations of microplastics from within two years for positive release and inspection. However, even though a standard measurement method will be published in 2019 for water, its necessary use of existing and expensive scientific laboratory equipment, such as microscopy and FTIR or Raman spectroscopy, will make it prohibitively expensive for in line use for many companies across Europe especially considering its need for highly trained personnel. There is therefore a need to develop suitable technologies for a robust, easy to use and low cost industrial instrument, whose measurements will correspond directly to the aforementioned standard, as well as train engineers for method development and operation. Given these multiple technical and analytical challenges, and that global production of plastic, that can take hundreds of years to biodegrade, is expected to triple by 2050; we propose a timely four year Initial Training Network to train multiple Early State Researchers throughout various scientific areas. Consisting of some of Europe's greatest experts in their fields it will provide tomorrows talent with the skills and knowledge to tackle possibly one of mankind's greatest threats to its existence whilst they jointly develop the technologies for the industrial instrument in collaboration with end-users and equipment manufacturers.


Net EU contribution
€ 606 345,12
Aston triangle
B4 7ET Birmingham
United Kingdom

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West Midlands (England) West Midlands Birmingham
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Participants (8)