Things have been relatively quiet around the LUC college building over the last six weeks, as students and faculty have spread out across the world to take time off, explore new places, visit family and friends, do research, pursue summer courses… and, of course, go to the BEACH!
But thanks to the LUC Global Microplastics Project, staff and students have not only been enjoying sun, surf, and sand -- they have also been helping contribute to a research project in the field of ecotoxicology.
The idea is simple: Each participant collects five small bags of sand, takes a picture from the beach, and uses their cell phone to set the GPS coordinates. They then return the samples to LUC, where the sand is analyzed by students in collaboration with project leaders Dr. Thijs Bosker (LUC), Dr. Paul Behrens (LUC), and Dr. Martina Vijver (Institute of Environmental Sciences, Leiden). By compiling the results, they will help measure the levels of microplastics pollution on beaches around the world, from Australia to Cambodia to Curaçao to Scheveningen.
As we've reported on this blog in the past, microplastics can be taken up in the food chain and eventually end up on our plates. But we still have a lot to learn about their global distribution patterns. The LUC Global Microplastics Project will help contribute to richer knowledge about the prevalence of microplastics, and about their potential impacts on organisms and the environment.
Great work everyone! Thanks for helping us make the most of your summer travels. Check out the map below to see where we've been!