The oceans host enormous biodiversity and its conservation and sustainable exploitation require a better understanding of marine life at various levels, from macro to microorganisms, as well as the assessment of anthropogenic impacts on its balance. The exponential accumulation of plastic in marine environments is known for its physical effects on marine animals, but the impact of its degradation into micro and nanoparticles, which can adsorb chemical pollutants and microbes and enhance the contact of marine organisms with mixtures, is unknown.
This project aims to monitor different types of microwaste from urban sewage and its possible release into marine environments through effluents from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), towards further exploration of its possible accumulation and impact on marine life. It is composed by the following tasks:
1) Quantification of microplastics/pollutants/microbes in marine waters and organisms, urban sewage and effluents from two WWTPs with different types of treatment, integrated in the protected wetland area of Ria Formosa;
2) Evaluating the seasonal variation on the microbiological biomass and microwaste removal efficiency in the two WWTPs;
3) Co-construction and optimization of underwater robots (ROVs) with schools and professional courses in the region to assist in project sampling, and other actions involving society such as lectures, debates or contests of ideas to reduce marine litter.
The project will join a multidisciplinary team of researchers, companies and schools with great potential to study the dissemination and impact of marine micro-waste, contribute to improve the efficiencies of sewage treatments and monitor the quality of environmental water while encouraging greater literacy, awareness and environmental protection in civil society.
Águas do Algarve SA (responsible for the drinking water supply, sewage treatment and quality control for the Algarve region)
Empresa Portuguesa Das Aguas Livres SA (SA) / Grupo Águas de Portugal (Water Quality accredited laboratories and company responsible for drinking water supply, sewage treatment and quality control in the central region of Portugal, including Lisbon)
AtlantikFish (extensive aquaculture company)
ADM-Biopolis, Valência, Spain (Probiotics and Genomics / Metagenomics large-scale sequencing)
Escola Secundária de Loulé (profissional courses, Robótics club and Ciencia Viva club)
Agrupamento de Escolas Tomás Cabreira (cursos profissionais, Clube Pr’Oceano e Ciencia Viva club)