H2O'Lyon Webinar #10 // Jes Vollertsen

On The December 16, 2021

5 pm (Paris time)
English and French speaking

Quantifying microplastics in environment – what we can and cannot do today

Jes Vollertsen, Professor of Environmental Engineering, Aalborg University, Denmark.

► Quantifying microplastics in environment – what we can and cannot do today

"Understanding occurrence, fate, and impacts of microplastic (MP) requires reliable methods for their identification. The first approaches to identify MP used the naked eye or microscopy without further analysis. This has been shown to be highly uncertain, and today it is generally accepted that MP identification requires chemical analysis of the particles. FTIR and Raman microscopy are suitable to quantify particle number and size, while particle mass can be estimated. Thermal decomposition methods such as Pyrolysis GC-MS have also proven versatile, filling some of the gaps of the spectroscopic methods. The methods are presented together with pros and cons, and main issues and pitfalls addressed. Finally some results on MP levels in the environment are presented."

Jes Vollertsen is a Professor of Environmental Engineering at Aalborg University, Denmark. He received his PhD from the same institution, where he also worked as assistant and associate professor. Prior to his academic career, he worked in public and private companies serving the urban water sector.

His research background is biological and chemical processes and pollutants in urban waters, with focus on sewerage systems and stormwater drainage systems. His approach is to develop fundamental knowledge to solve real world issues and to bring this knowledge into play at full scale. His work on microplastics began in 2015 with focus on analytical methods for microplastics quantification. It is his goal to contribute to trustworthy, fast, and affordable methods to quantify microplastics in the environment. His work targets all types of matrixes, e.g. water, wastewater, biota, food, soil, sediments, biosolids, air, etcetera. He addresses the processes behind technologies to mitigate the microplastic problem and attempts to quantify the load of microplastics on the natural environment. As part of this, he addresses aspects of the physical, chemical, and biological breakdown of microplastics in the environment.

About Aalborg University
Aalborg University (AAU) has been providing students with academic excellence, cultural engagement and personal development since its inception in 1974. It offers education within the fields of natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, technical and health sciences. Aalborg University provides high-quality research within the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities and engineering and health sciences and focuses on strong national and international world class research groups representing the academic areas of the University. The Department of Civil Engineering covers the build environment with its section of Water and Environment covering teaching and research in urban hydrology, aquatic systems and aquatic pollution.