Research center set up to study impact of microplastics

Chulalongkorn University has joined the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, the Pollution Control Department and 7 educational institutes from Japan, to establish a marine debris research center to indentify effects of microplastic contamination in the environment.

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Chulalongkorn University has unveiled the establishment of a research center inside the campus as part of the cooperation between Thailand and Japan, as well as the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, the Pollution Control Department and other related agencies.

This 5-year research program is aimed at eliminating debris, particularly plastics, from Thai waters, in keeping with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 14, to conserve the oceans and marine resources for sustainable development. The center will engage in inclusive research projects and actions to raise pubic awareness, and ultimately report to related government agencies providing plastic waste management guidelines in Thailand.

Assoc Prof Voranop Viyakarn, the Director of the Department of Marine Science, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University, revealed the university has been performing research on marine and plastic debris together with government agencies, including the Pollution Control Department and the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, as well as five other educational institutes, namely Walailak University, Eastern Asia University, Burapha University, Prince of Songkla University, and Kasetsat University.

The latest research program is the first of its kind to be undertaken in Thailand and involves 7 Japanese universities who will share academic resources and technologies to ensure the effectiveness of the research, with results expected over the next 3 years.

Assoc Prof Suchana Chavanich, a lecturer at the Department of Marine Science at Chulalongkorn University, added that initial research on Thai people’s use of single-use plastics shows signs of continuous decline, especially in Bangkok, while the research will focus sources of the highest debris volume, particularly large provinces and the upper Gulf of Thailand’s shores, to find the size and flow pattern of debris into the sea, as well as finding the level of microplastic contamination in living organisms in the human food chain.