Predictive modelling tool to study plastic behaviour in aquatic environments

 
Microplastics
 

Status: Active

The proliferation of plastic waste in rivers, lakes, estuaries and ocean is a major global challenge and threat to the environment, livelihoods and human health. The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is working with partners to develop a novel suite of technologies and methodologies to better understand the fate and transportation of microplastic particles, characterize them, better predict their movement and behaviour within Canadian marine and freshwater systems and improve knowledge of their effect on living beings and ecosystems.

Project objectives

  • Better identify accumulation zones of microplastic particles
  • Develop a novel suite of technologies and methodologies for characterizing and modelling the movement and behaviour of plastics within Canadian marine and freshwater environments
  • Fill the knowledge gap by developing a prediction tool for plastics interaction, degradation, transport and aggregation modelling
  • Improve the understanding of plastics exposure and risks, facilitate identification of pollutant sources and accumulation hot spots, enable decision-making for targeted prevention and clean-up, and support mitigation of risks to the environment and human health
  • Provide data that will support decision making by identifying potential risks associated with microplastics accumulation
  • Support the development of technologies that will allow scientists to identify and characterize microplastic in the bodies of water without leaving the testing site (in situ testing)
  • Develop innovative sensors combining ultrasound and optic technologies for on-site physical monitoring to gather real-time data on how the particles behave in aqueous environments
  • Test the effect of nanoplastics in zebrafish, which have a similar metabolism to humans, in order to improve knowledge about possible impacts on animal and human health

Deliverables

  • Analysis of the effect of nanoplastics on mammalian and non-mammalian cell cultures
  • Inventory of contaminants and pollutants that associate with plastic nanoparticles in aquatic systems
  • A numerical model to predict plastic particles interaction, degradation, transport and aggregation
  • Reference material on the lifecycle analysis of the ageing of plastic particles in aqueous systems
  • Reference material to better identify and characterize microplastics and nanoplastics
  • Innovative sensors combining ultrasound and optic technologies for on-site physical monitoring

Collaborators

  • Professor Majid Mohammadian, University of Ottawa
  • Professor Parisa Ariya, McGill University
  • Dr. Shreyas Patankar and the Plastics Lab from Ocean Wise
  • Dr. Dean Wenham, Ocean Diagnostics
  • Dr. Vincent Cardin and team, Photon etc.

Project team

  • Dr. Vahid Pilechi, Research Engineer and Team Lead, Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering Research Centre, NRC and Adjunct Professor, University of Ottawa
  • Enda Murphy, Senior Research Engineer, Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering Research Centre, NRC
  • Dr. Shan Zou, Senior Research Officer and Team Leader, Nanoscale Measurement Disciplines, Metrology Research Centre, NRC and Adjunct Professor, Department of Chemistry, Carleton University
  • Dr. Fabrice Berrue, Team Lead, Natural Products Chemistry, Aquatic Crop Resources Development Research Centre, NRC
  • Dr. Christophe Bescond, Team Lead, Energy, Mining and Environment Research Centre, NRC