Metropolitan urban. The Whau River catchment is located in Auckland, Aotearoa-New Zealand's largest city. This catchment includes urban and industrial areas and contains some of metropolitan Auckland’s highest anthropogenic pollutant concentrations, reflecting a range of inputs (urban stormwater, commercial/industrial site runoff, combined sewage overflows, urban litter).
Determining microplastic pollution risks
To address microplastic impacts, we will focus on how microplastics act as a direct chemical contaminant source, adsorb contaminants and make them bioavailable, and microbial interactions in these processes.
This work will link to studies defining the ecotoxicology and ecological effects of microplastics in representative ecosystems.
Interactions between plastics and the environment
The way plastics interact with the environment can affect their risk to ecosystem and animal health. To look at the some of the ways plastics can affect our marine environment we are running a series of experiments where we put plastics out into the sea and look at what starts living on their surface, and what chemicals become associated with them. We are also look at how these things can affect the plastics themselves, for example are the things that grow on them assisting with their breakdown.
Between March and August 2019 a pilot study was conducted at the Port of Lyttelton, Christchurch, to look at the biofilms that develop on two different plastics, Nylon and oxo-PE, which are commonly found in marine litter. The samples from this experiment are currently being analysed.