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REVEAL: Formation of small plastic particles in the environment and their bioavailability, accumulation and impacts on aquatic species

REVEAL: Formation of small plastic particles in the environment and their bioavailability, accumulation and impacts on aquatic species

REVEAL focuses on studying how small microplastic (sMP; <100µm) and nanoplastic (NP; <1µm) particles are formed through the degradation of larger plastic items, and how these particles behave as they are transported from freshwater, through coastal brackish waters, and into the marine environment.

REVEAL will use this knowledge to design environmentally-relevant exposure scenarios so that the bioavailability, accumulation and potential for toxicological impacts can be assessed using aquatic organisms with the highest risk to sMP and NP exposure. REVEAL will have a strong emphasis on developing and applying innovative combinations of analytical tools and methods for identifying and quantifying sMP in natural waters. The application fo these methods to complex environmental matrices, such as sediments and biota, will also be assessed.

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Visual representation of plastic degredation in water


REVEAL will produce and study partially degraded and irregular-shaped sMP and NP representing those typically found in the environment. The project is developed around two specific case studies: polyethylene plastic bags and microplastic fibres from synthetic textiles. REVEAL studies how these consumer products degrade in aquatic environments, how the resulting products of sMP and NP degradation behave in natural waters and whether these products are bioavailable to transfer across biological barriers (e.g., gut wall) and bioaccumulate inside organisms, potentially causing adverse effects.

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Salinity gradient from land to ocean

 

Communication strategy

By effectively communicating the knowledge generated, the project will contribute to increasing environmental awareness of this significant component of plastic pollution by informing strategically-important international organisations such as the EU's Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the UN's Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Evironmental Protection. 

  • Research partners: SINTEF, NIVA, NTNU, CNRS (France), University of Gothenburg
  • Funding: The REVEAL project is funded through the Research Council of Norway with financial support from Handelensmiljøfonden. 
  • Project duration: October 2020 - December 2023

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Published 16 December 2020
Research Manager
930 89 510

Project start

01/10/2020