Genoa - Mullet at the Port of Genoa, along with those present at Olbia and Toulon, will be used to guard against sea pollution. Specifically, pollution related to micro plastics: those tiny fragments, smaller than 5 millimetres, which – it is suspected - also function as vehicles for hydrocarbon and heavy metal particles to make their way into the food chain.
According to the prestigious scientific journal Plos One, in the Mediterranean Sea alone there are at least 230 million tons of plastics. The SPlasH! project – an acronym for Stop Plastics in H2O! – has arisen out of the concern for this phenomenon, and its public presentation took place yesterday at Palazzo San Giorgio.
The program will be coordinated by the University of Genoa with two partners, the European Research Institute (E.R.I) and the Université de Toulon. SPlasH! is funded by the Interregg-Maritime Program of the European Union, and aims to study the presence of micro and nano-plastics in port waters, highlighting some aspects that are still poorly understood, like the dynamics of micro plastics, or how they move; it will also analyse the flow and variable concentrations of the various micro plastic sources from land to sea, and their distribution at various depths in areas of heavy human activity.
The project, which is scheduled to last two years, also includes science activities aimed at schools - students will be able to participate in collecting seaside samples - and events for the general public, to increase awareness of the need for more conscientious use of plastics, and to encourage waste sorting and recycling.
“We’re happy that our project has been included in the list of the celebrations for the ECDay, the European Cooperation Day, which falls on September 21st,” explains Alessandro Stocchino, professor in the Department of Civil, Chemical and Environmental Engineering of the University of Genoa.
“The issue of plastic pollution at sea seems removed from us, but it’s not really so as all bodies of water are interlinked, and this is an issue that concerns the oceans as well as the sea basins located meters from our homes. Whether ports are sources or receivers of the plastic pollution still needs to be ascertained, and this is one of the objectives of the project.” To better understand the nature and origin of the micro plastics analysis of water samples will be carried out, not just at the surface but also at different depths, as well as the contents of the mullets’ stomachs.