Microplastic Pollution: Nanoscale Surface Interactions and Public Perceptions

January 2019April 2023

This project is split into two main aims. Firstly, this project aims to investigate microplastic surface interactions, specifically how weathering impacts the formation of protein surface layers (protein coronae). Secondly, the public will be surveyed to assess their perception and knowledge of microplastic pollution. Within this, the project aims to identify potential misconceptions and associated risks relating to microplastics, which can then be addressed and inform the way science communication is approached.


The research conducted has led to an improvement in understanding microplastic weathering, and how resultant changes to surface properties impact the development of protein coronae. There are continued ongoing attempts to define the risks associated with microplastic pollution, as this information is essential in effectively legislating microplastic pollution to ultimately mitigate the issue.

Furthermore, understanding public perceptions of microplastic pollution provides feedback as to how related information is being received and how misconceptions may be forming. This research will provide support to policy makers and science communicators, and provide insight into the impacts of miscommunication, whether they are intentional or not.

Research Outputs

Burrows, S.D., Ribeiro, F., O’brien, S., Okoffo, E., Toapanta, T., Charlton, N., Kaserzon, S., Lin, C.Y., Tang, C., Rauert, C. and Wang, X., 2022. The message on the bottle: Rethinking plastic labelling to better encourage sustainable use. Environmental Science & Policy132, pp.109-118.

Burrows, S., Olive, R., O'Brien, S. and Galloway, T., 2022. Connection is key when there's no planet B: The need to innovate environmental science communication with transdisciplinary approaches. Science of The Total Environment853, p.158435.

Burrows, S.D., Frustaci, S., Thomas, K.V. and Galloway, T., 2020. Expanding exploration of dynamic microplastic surface characteristics and interactions. TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry130, p.115993.


Project members

Prof Kevin Thomas

QAEHS Director
and Theme Leader, Environmental Health Toxicology

A/Prof Sarit Kaserzon

Co-Theme Leader, Environmental Health Risk Assessment