Food and beverage products can become contaminated with microplastics (MP) at any stage of food production, with processing and packaging considered to be important sources of contamination. Consumption of MP through the diet is recognised as a major pathway of human exposure and concerns about potential health risks are growing internationally. However, quantifying total dietary exposure has proved to be challenging due to an absence of standardised sampling and analytical methods, difficulties comparing studies using different laboratory procedures and a lack of quality data for all major food groups. Estimates are subsequently extremely variable, ranging from 11,440 to 29 billion MP particles per year, or masses of 213 µg to 431 g per year. This thesis aims to more reliably quantify dietary exposure using consistent methodologies to analyse up to 30 of the most commonly consumed Australian foods; determine if ‘unhealthy’ diets comprising of greater proportions of ultra-processed foods increase dietary exposure to MP; and examine the role of packaging as a MP contaminant under different conditions.

Coral was awarded her Bachelor and Master degrees in Environmental Science from UK universities in 2005. After 8 years as an Environmental Consultant she returned to academia and graduated with a Bachelor of Health Science (Nutrition) from Edith Cowan University in 2017. Coral has since been working as a casual teaching and research academic at Southern Cross University on the Gold Coast.  Following her interest in combining environmental and health sciences she is now undertaking a PhD at QAEHS investigating dietary exposure to microplastics.  

Please note this is a PhD candidate confirmation review.