Cefic-lri Programme | European Chemical Industry Council

ECO48 – NANO2PLAST: Extending nanoparticle models to open source models of the fate and transport of microplastic in aquatic systems

Principal Investigator

Prof Matthew MacLeod
Stockholm University
Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry
Svante Arrhenius väg 8
SE-11418 – Stockholm, Sweden
Tel: +46 8 6747168


Dr Antonia Praetorius, University of Amsterdam, NL, a.praetorius@uva.nl

Dr Maria del Prado Domercq, Stockholm University, SE, prado.domercq@aces.su.se


Plastic pollution has become a major environmental concern among the public and government agencies, and in recent years the presence of microplastics in aquatic and terrestrial systems worldwide has received increasing attention. Microplastics are generally defined as polymer particles, fibres or fragments, smaller than 5 mm. The risks they may pose to environmental and human health are not yet fully determined, but concerns have been raised due to their ubiquitous presence in the environment, their persistence, the possibility of leaching of potentially harmful additives and their potential uptake by biota.

Even though microplastics have been detected in sea and fresh waters, sediments, soils and organisms around the world, exposure data is currently far from sufficient to inform risk assessment. The main open questions relate to actual environmental concentrations in different locations, the distribution of microplastics between different environmental compartments, their speciation in natural systems, the different exposure patterns displayed by different microplastics and the identification of dominant transport pathways.

The main objectives of the Nano2Plast project are:

  1. the development of a robust and flexible fate and transport modelling framework for microplastics in aquatic environments based on previously developed nanoparticle fate and transport models;
  2. the implementation of this new framework in an open source generic regional scale river model;
  3. its integration into the existing open-source global-scale multimedia contaminant fate model BETR Global.

Predicted environmental concentrations and distributions between different environmental compartments calculated by the models for various microplastics will provide bounding information for microplastic risk assessment.

Related Publications


Antonia Praetorius, Matthew MacLeod. Fate and transport models for nano- and microplastics. SETAC Europe SciCon 30th Annual Meeting, May 2020, online.

The Full Multi: An open-source framework for modelling the transport and fate of nano- and microplastics in aquatic systems, Prado Domercq, Antonia Praetorius & Matthew MacLeod

Timeline: March 2019 > March 2021

LRI funding: € 219 536

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