9. Plastic Pollution

Dr Tom Stanton

Human activities are placing innumerable pressures on environmental systems. Pollution is just one of the ways people are compromising environmental health.

Plastic pollution has raised the profile of society’s environmental footprint, and piqued public, corporate, and governmental attention, more than any other pollutant. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Pollutants that cannot be seen far outnumber those that can and, whilst plastic pollution is a major environmental concern, the impacts of alternative materials that are promoted as being ‘greener’ are actually very poorly understood.

My research aims to better understand the sources, pathways, and distribution of pollution, particularly in aquatic environments. It focusses on plastic and non-plastic materials at macro- and micro- scales, as well as chemical pollutants. In addition to my own field campaigns, I work with community scientists to increase the spatial coverage of my research and engage members of the public with the complexity of the pollution problem. This I do in collaboration with not-for-profit organisation Planet Patrol.