A new project coordinated by the Spanish Plastics Technology Centre (Aimplas) is aimed at evolving a standardised methodology for detecting microplastics in wastewater treatment plants and developing new filtering techniques for the particles.
Called the Microplast project, it is a collaborative effort between Aimplas, water utility Aguas de Valencia and the Universitat de València that has been mounted in response to growing concerns about the existence of plastic particles measuring less than 5 millimetres (known as microplastics) in the environment.
“This concern has given rise to studies on these particles, but different conclusions have been reached and no evidence has been uncovered yet about the risks to human health or the environment,” said lead researcher Elena Domínguez, from Aimplas, in a 31 July statement.
Initially, the project will develop a standardised methodology to quantify the presence of microplastics in wastewater and sludge at urban treatment plants and in industrial water at recycling pilot plants.
This will help shed light on the current situation and make it possible to assess the efficiency of different filtering methods.
In the second phase, the programme will develop two different technologies for pilot-plant treatment, one using sand and carbon filters, and the other membrane reactors to filter microplastics.
The Aimplas release did not identify the geographical scope of the project.