Microplastics pollution worse in Jersey
MICROPLASTIC pollution was found to be more prominent on Jersey’s coastline than in Guernsey, France or southern England, according to the results of research conducted last summer.
Former De La Salle student Adam Dallas-Chapman surveyed 10 Jersey beaches and their coastal waters and found tiny fragments of plastic in every sample.
The highest concentration of microplastic pollution was found in St Aubin’s Bay, near where treated sewage enters the sea, his study found. He is hoping that his work will form the basis of further research into whether sewage treatment is linked to plastic pollution.
Mr Dallas-Chapman undertook the work for his dissertation to complete his master’s degree in environmental protection and management at Edinburgh University.
Microplastic refers to any plastic under 5mm in size and can be categorised either as primary – for example, the microbeads sometimes found in cosmetics – or secondary, meaning it has broken down from larger plastic objects.
It accounts for 92% of the plastic pollution in the ocean and is of particular concern to environmentalists as it can get into the food chain.
According to scientists, it is not yet known how it might affect human health, but there are fears that the tiniest fragments, some of which are less than the width of a human hair, could get into the bloodstream.
While Jersey’s average level of microplastic was higher than Guernsey’s according to the survey, the Sarnian data was more than 10 years old.
The high concentration found around St Aubin’s Bay has led Mr Dallas-Chapman to suggest it may be linked to the sewage output off Bellozanne.
‘The fact that this site recorded the highest number of microplastics across the entire coastal survey suggests that the island’s sewage treatment works plays an important part in microplastic contamination,’ he wrote in his dissertation.
Mr Dallas-Chapman, who is now working for an environmental consultancy company in the south of England, looking at water-based pollution incidents, said he intended his master’s work to provide Jersey with a baseline study of current levels of microplastics.
Of the microplastics found in his survey, almost 70% were fibrous in nature.
‘I believe we can [tackle microplastic pollution] through education and changing behaviour,’ he said.
‘Reducing plastic intake can be difficult but already people and organisations are attempting to do just that. Studies such as my research are also the first step in managing microplastic pollution as they provide a baseline for that further research.’