Microplastics in the Dutch Environment

Environmental contamination by plastic particles, also known as ‘microplastics’, brings synthetic materials that are non-degradable and biologically incompatible into contact with ecosystems. E&H has been studying this issue since 2010 under the lead of Dr. Heather Leslie who has been collaborating with Prof. Dick Vethaak of research institute Deltares from the start. Part of the research has focused on the issue in the Netherlands. This research has resulted in an investigation the extent of microplastic pollution in the Dutch environment. 

A large and diverse dataset was published in Environmental International and shows that plastic pollution is found at significant concentrations in major Dutch rivers, treated wastewater effluents, Amsterdam canals, several coastal marine species, as well as in estuarine and marine sediments off the Dutch coast. The environmental monitoring of plastic concentrations is a key aspect in the process of pollution mitigation, and this study provides the best baseline available to date for microplastic pollution in the Netherlands.

Contact: heather.leslie@vu.nl

Leslie HA, SH Brandsma, MJM van Velzen, AD Vethaak. 2017. Microplastics en route: Field measurements in the Dutch river delta and Amsterdam canals, wastewater treatment plants, North Sea sediments and biota.Environment International 101, 133–142.