Assessing the risks to freshwater ecosystems from water soluble polymers

Lead Research Organisation: CARDIFF UNIVERSITY
Department Name: Chemistry


Synthetic water-soluble polymers, such as polyacrylamides (PAM), are widely used in a range of consumer products, including cosmetics and detergents, as well as in various industrial processes, particularly in production of concrete additives, for soil conditioning and dewatering and also, significantly, in wastewater treatment. There has thus far been no serious consideration given to the environmental effects of synthetic water-soluble polymers, despite the prospect of increased incorporation into the biosphere due to their dispersal in water.
This studentship will test the hypothesis that: Sufficient barriers exist to water-soluble polymers reaching or persisting in the environment in concentrations that might have a negative impact on biota. It will achieve this by testing the potential risk that soluble polymers might pose to freshwater ecosystems.
The objectives of the work designed to test this hypothesis are as follows:
To carry out a scoping study to explore potential sources contributing to environmental loading of water-soluble polymers, pathways for transport of these materials into and through the natural environment, and potential receptors.
To develop methods for the detection, identification and quantification of water-soluble polymers in environmental media.
To carry out field investigations to test analytical methods and confirm outcomes of the scoping study. Samples will be taken from freshwater sites where we have extensive background data from previous projects.
To investigate the environmental fate and mobility of water soluble polymers in relevant environmental media via laboratory experimentation.
To investigate the environmental impact of water soluble polymers on biota and biodiversity via laboratory and field trials.
To develop hazard mapping of water soluble polymers in natural environments.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/V013041/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2027
2587587 Studentship NE/V013041/1 30/09/2021 30/07/2025