Microplastics in drinking water


A new monitored pollutant present in surface waters is microplastics (MPs). They are defined as plastic particles up to 5 mm in size and they can be divided according to their origin into primary and secondary ones. Primary MPs are plastic particles used directly in the consumer products, such as cosmetics. Secondary MPs are the products of desintegration and decomposition of larger plastic items. The sources of plastics in the water environment are primarily waste waters and a decomposition of plastic waste. Although the ecological impact of microplastics has not been satisfactorily evaluated so far, microplastics are considered to be important pollutants with possible health risks. For instance, they have a potential to bind harmful persistent chemicals and simultaneously they are easily devoured by living organisms, which can cause a transfer of substances between trophic levels and subsequent bioaccumulation. The significance of this research lies in the fact that microplastics are pollutants with a potential health risk and their presence in drinking water is undesirable. Therefore, it is necessary to monitor their presence in drinking water and also to aim at the possibilities of their removal during water treatment, since no special technology has been designed for microplastics removal so far.

Research Activities

  • Determination of the occurrence and quantity of microplastics in raw water sources and in drinking water
  • Characterization of microplastics in terms of their size distribution, shape and material composition
  • Evaluation of microplastic removal by individual technological stages of water treatment
  • Study of the adsorption mechanisms of organic matter and other micropollutants (e.g. pesticides) onto microplastic particles
  • Study of competitive adsorption of organic matter, pesticides and microplastics onto activated carbon during tertiary water treatment