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Microplastic in the urban environment – A case study of Coimbra, Portugal

  • 1 July, 2020
  • Wageningen University, Soil Physics and Land Management
  • prof. dr V Geissen
  • prof. dr Loes van Schaik

The progressive increase in the number of people living in cities has exacerbated the pollution problem worldwide, especially in urban environments. Air, water and soil are compartments affected by this pollution, which in turn affects human health. There are many different point and non point sources of emerging pollutants such as MPs, which are transported diffusely. Therefore, quantifying, controlling and treating these pollutants is very complex and deemed problematic by the European Commission. Some experts point out that green areas are natural filters for contaminants in cities, due to the retention capacity of leaves and soil. Nevertheless, specific evidence is sought concerning the retention and removal of pollutants by vegetation and soil in these areas, as well as the impacts of pollution on soil and groundwater quality and the eventual fate of the contaminants. This work aims to study different sources and fates of MPs in an urban space, with special interest in identifying the impact of MPs retention in UGA soils and vegetation.
Different UGA characteristics that influence these processes must be considered in order to discover the best scenarios and conditions for UGAs to play their pollution-regulating roles. This will lead to the implementation of basic measures to prevent/control the entry of diffuse urban pollutants from non-point sources in cities. This study should also contribute to the recommendations for which different UGAs should be planned and managed to improve the supply of environmental services linked to pollution regulation, specifically using a Portuguese municipality as a case-study (Coimbra).


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