Occurrence and fate of microplastics in river catchments (NERC DTP)


Contact Dr Paul Kay, Dr Richard Grayson or Professor Jeanette Rotchell (University of Hull) to discuss this project further informally.

Project description

Microplastics are tiny plastic fragments which originate from the decomposition of plastic products such as bottles and textiles or which are intentionally used in other products including cosmetics. They have been monitored mainly in the marine environment but work in freshwaters is only just beginning (Kay et al., 2018; Wagner et al., 2014; Eerkes-Medrano et al., 2015). Very little is known about where microplastics occur in river catchments and which areas are key sources of them. Similarly, almost nothing is known about their behaviour once they enter river channels. This is of particular concern given that microplastics can be ingested by wildlife, representing a physical hazard and a source of potentially toxic chemicals.

The overall aim of this project is to better understand the occurrence and fate of microplastics in river catchments. The specific objectives are to:

  1. Measure the occurrence of a range of microplastics throughout river catchments.
  2. Quantify the extent to which difference land uses and human activities are associated with the occurrence of microplastics and their make-up.
  3. Study the fate of microplastics in rivers and relate this to microplastic and river physical characteristics.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 UK bachelor (honours) degree or equivalent. Applicants from other EU countries will need to meet the University's English language requirements before starting the PhD in October 2019.

How to apply


If you require any further information about the application process, please contact Jacqui Manton.