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Presented By: Department of Chemistry

The multi-dimensionality of microplastics – and how it affects their fate and effects in aquatic ecosystems

Chelsea Rochman (U-Toronto)

Microplastic particles are unique from other contaminants in that they are a physical particle composed of a complex mixture of different chemicals (e.g., monomers, additives). In the environment, they are found in diverse shapes and sizes. These multidimensional characteristics affect their fate in the environment, and thus exposure in biota. Moreover, their different characteristics likely affect their impact on ecosystems. This presentation will share results from an in-lake mesocosm experiment conducted at the International Institute for Sustainable Development’s Experimental Lakes Area (IISD-ELA) to discuss the fate of microplastics in aquatic ecosystems. Different concentrations of a mixture of polyethylene, polystyrene and polyethylene terephthalate were added to nine 10-m diameter x 2-m deep limnocorrals as part of a ten-week experiment to measure the fate and effects of microplastics. The fate of the microplastics influences exposure in biota – relevant to risk. In addition to discussing the work at IISD-ELA, this presentation will share results from meta-analyses, and field and lab experiments to discuss the fate of microplastics in food webs and the physical and chemical effects of different types of microplastics across multiple levels of biological organization. Over the last two decades, the field has matured and we are beginning to understand the contamination, fate and effects of microplastics. Still, there is a lot to learn about how their diverse characteristics affect their fate and interactions in ecosystems. \r\n

Chelsea Rochman (U-Toronto)

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