McGill University: Government of Canada funds McGill research on contaminants in aquatic ecosystems

Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that are microscopic and up to 5 millimetres in size. McGill research project aims to provide an understanding of how these contaminants end up in Canadian aquatic environments and what impacts they have.

Microplastics have been found on almost every beach, on the surface of every ocean, in deepest parts of the sea, and in some of the most remote parts of the planet. The Government of Canada is further investing in research to better inform the protection of oceans, lakes, rivers and waterways and the many species that call them home from contaminants like microplastics.

Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, announced $448,201 in funding for research on microplastics. This funding supports two research projects addressing the detection and biological effects of these contaminants on aquatic species.

McGill received $217,733 over three years to study how small micro- and nanoplastics travel into and within the bodies of aquatic organisms, how to detect them and how this may impact their health. The study, Micro- and nanoplastics in aquatic environments: sources, properties and methods to understand uptake and translocation, will be led by Chemical Engineering professor Nathalie Tufenkji.

“I would like to thank the Government of Canada for this important investment in McGill’s research on the effects of micro- and nano-plastic contaminants”, said Martha Crago, Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation. “The outcomes of this project will aid in informing science-based resource management decisions for the preservation and continued productivity of Canada’s aquatic resources.”

The Université du Québec à Rimouski received $230,468 over four years to examine the biological effects of microplastics on sea scallops.

“Canadians throw away over 3 million tonnes of plastic waste every year,” said Minister Jordan. “Only 9% is recycled resulting in an increased risk to our environment, including our waters. It is critical that we study and understand all threats, including microplastics, to our aquatic ecosystems to ensure that these bodies of water can continue to sustain the countless resources and livelihoods they generate. Today’s investments will strengthen Canada’s blue economy and ensure it continues to be grounded in science and sustainability.”

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