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Research@Queen’s Feature: Diving into microplastics

How do we tackle this “wicked” problem? Queen’s researcher Myra Hird believes the answer is in our own consumption and production habits.

[Dr. Myra Hird]
Queen's researcher Myra Hird, FRSC, wants us to rethink our consumption and production habits.

Microplastics – They are in the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we consume, and we are still learning about what this means for our health, the health of our environment, and our future.

How do we tackle this “wicked” problem? Queens researcher Myra Hird believes the answer is in our own consumption habits.

RESEARCH@QUEEN’S 
Did you know that the university recently launched a new central website for Queen’s research? From in-depth features to the latest information on the university’s researchers, the site is a destination showcasing the impact of Queen’s research. Discover Research@Queen’s.

Due to exposure and wear and tear, big plastics inevitably break down into smaller pieces. Microplastics are pieces of plastic that measure up to 5 millimetres on their longest dimension. (The definition includes nanoplastics, which are even tinier particles.) Hard to detect and hard to control, these pollutants have been proven, in controlled experiments, to harm both the environment and living creatures. So far, the high concentrations simulated in laboratories have not yet been found in nature. Yet, given the limitations of the current measurement methods and the fact that many human activities (agriculture, fishery, industry, and others) continue to release microplastics into the environment, this is no reason for relief.

Continue the story on the Research@Queen’s website.