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Gothenburg is keen on battling microplastics

Rainwater and traffic contribute to the spreading of these pollutants

  • sierpień 13, 2020 13:00
  • Author Tzvetozar Vincent Iolov
Medium gothenburg microplastics
Źródło: Municipality of Gothenburg

The Gothenburg municipal website announced today that the city will receive SEK 2.4 million (about 234 000 euros) to find a way to prevent natural water bodies from being polluted with microplastics. The money is forwarded by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and will be used to develop two experimental projects.

Traffic pollutes in other ways that we may have been unaware of

Microplastics are all those particles generated from the degradation of plastic products which, as is by now well known, can persist in the environment for hundreds or even thousands of years. One of the daily human activities that generate microplastics is driving.

When cars and trucks traverse the streets and roads this breaks off plastic particles from them and their tires as well as little chunks from the asphalt roads. When it rains, the waters wash off the generated microplastic particles into the road ditches from where they travel to the rivers, lakes and seas. In fact, it is estimated that 50% of microplastic pollution comes from traffic.

Even though it has been known since the 1970s that rains are a significant vector for the propagation of pollution, little has been done about it until today. That is why the Gothenburg administration wants to do something about this problem.

The grant money will be used to finance two projects to that end. The first one concerns the installation of filter cassettes which can be stacked like bricks, and the second one is the creation of rain gardens. Both will be built along Litteraturgatan Street in Hisingen.

“We will measure the levels in both incoming and outgoing water. The hope is that we will see which facility best purifies the water,” said Helén Galfi, a researcher the Water Cycle Department of the Swedish city, adding that it is also important to think right from the start when new roads are being designed for the future.

The cassette filters prevent flooding and catch miniature contaminants, whereas the rain gardens are partially submerged patches of greenery which act as drainage for water outflow. The water irrigates the plants and the particles accumulate as sediment at the bottom.



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