More than 250 million tonnes of plastics are used annually on a global scale and there is a growing awareness that following their end of life more than a third of these plastics can enter the environment. However, the majority of community concern and scientific interest has focussed on the marine environment, with considerably less attention paid to the terrestrial environment. This is despite many plastic-containing products being present in terrestrial systems either through use in agricultural films, application of organic soil conditioners or inappropriate disposal. Compared with the marine environment, there are additional challenges associated with understanding plastic contamination and mitigation of plastic inputs in the terrestrial environment, such as quantification and characterisation of plastics in soils or isolating plastics in waste streams destined for land.

This talk will give a brief overview of the current understanding of plastics in the terrestrial environment, future challenges that need to be addressed and some examples of our experience in working in this area.

Dr Mike Williams is a research scientist within the CSIRO Land and Water Environmental Contaminants Mitigation and Technologies research program. His research experience involves assessment of the fate and effects of trace organic contaminants and their transformation products in aquatic and terrestrial environments. He has the ability to integrate assessment of fate and effects to determine the potential ecological impacts of trace organic contaminants. He has extensive experience in the use of mass spectrometry to quantify and identify trace residues of trace organic contaminants in a range of environmental matrices, including wastewater. Dr Williams has a demonstrated capacity to work and interact with others across a range of disciplinary backgrounds, including environmental chemistry, ecotoxicology, pharmacology, hydrology and analytical chemistry. He is currently involved in projects assessing (1) the transport and associated environmental risks of chemicals in surface and groundwater from hydraulic fracturing activities (2), the fate and ecotoxicity of microplastics in wastewater and terrestrial ecosystems, (3) sorption of perfluorinated chemicals based on soil properties, (4) fate and impacts of pharmaceuticals, including antibiotics, in aquatic and terrestrial systems.



PACE Building, 20 Cornwall Street, Woolloongabba
Interaction Space (Room 4002)