Analytical characterization of micro plastics in sand and water samples and their implications for human health
Universidad de Panama
Denise Delvalle-Borrero PhD
English, Spanish, German
4 weeks
Cities/Months Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Augt Sep Oct Nov Dec
yes No No yes yes yes yes yes yes yes No No
Type of Research Project
- Basic science
What is the background of the project?
Human activity has led to microplastic contamination throughout the marine environment. As a result of widespread contamination, microplastics are ingested by many species of wildlife including fish and shellfish. Because microplastics are associated with chemicals from manufacturing and that sorb from the surrounding environment, there is concern regarding physical and chemical toxicity. Evidence regarding microplastic toxicity and epidemiology is emerging. Microplastics are ubiquitous in the marine environment and are increasingly contaminating species in the marine environment. Given levels of seafood consumption worldwide, it is inevitable that humans are exposed to microplastics at some level. The human body’s excretory system eliminates microplastics, likely disposing of > 90% of ingested micro- and nanoplastic via feces. Factors affecting retention and clearance rates are the size, shape, polymer type, and additive chemicals of microplastics ingested by humans. The severity of adverse effects resulting from exposures depends on the nature of the toxic chemical, exposure characteristics, individual susceptibility, and hazard controls.
What is the aim of the project?
The aim of this project is to establish a base line based on parameter such as concentration, origin and chemical nature of the polymers for the country Panama.
What techniques and methods are used?
Collect the samples (sand and water) in a standardized manner-Isolate the different kinds of polymers according to our own developed methodology- Characterize the nature of the plastics per visual methodologies (fluorescent microscopy) and the use of a Fourier transformed spectrophotometer. We will need to state a statistical correlation between the amount of bigger plastic debris, the micro plastic fraction found in sand and water and the site where the samples were taken
What is the role of the student?
- The student will observe the practical experiments but will be highly involved in the analysis of the results
- The tasks will be done under supervision
What are the tasks expected to be accomplished by the student?
The student will take part in the sampling of sand, the visual characterization using the microscope, the practical part in the laboratory for performing the isolation of organic and inorganic matter. The student will help with the statistical correlation as mentioned before.
Will there be any theoretical teaching provided (preliminary readings, lectures, courses, seminars etc)
Literature search
What is expected from the student at the end of the research exchange? What will be the general outcome of the student?
- The student will prepare a poster
- The student will prepare a scientific report
What skills are required of the student? Is there any special knowledge or a certain level of studies needed?
Use of a microscope, statistic tools, readiness and awareness of the importance of outcomes.
Are there any legal limitations in the student’s involvement
Type of students accepted
This project accepts:
- Medical students
- Students in biomedical fields
- Methodology Used for the Detection and Identification of Microplastics—A Critical Appraisal
- Martin G.J. Löder and Gunnar Gerdts (Book Chapter) Micro-plastic ingestion by zooplankton’; Cole M.; et al. in: Environmental Science & Technology; Vol 47 (12); pp. 6646-6655. 2013.
- Marine pollution. Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean; Jambeck; J. R.; Geyer; R.; Wilcox; C.; et al.: Nature; 347; 768-771. 2015