As something of a coincidence to my composing interest in the River Tame (see previous blog post here), there is recent research activity looking into the quantity of micro-plastics found in the river. A scientific research team lead by Professor Jamie Woodward of the University of Manchester reported significant amounts coming from sewage overflow systems or waste water treatment plants. The micro-plastics become trapped in sludge, or filamentous algae, and can be ingested by river animals, entering the wider ecology. The water treatment company in the region, United Utilities, recognises the problem of micro-plastics though disputes some of the conclusions of the research team. You can read about it in more detail by following this Guardian article link.
The report outlines how the micro-plastics build up in dry periods and are then washed away at times of high rain fall or flood which mirrors what I found with the larger pieces of plastic which inspired my composition – at the time of taking the picture on this page, the plastic accumulations had been washed downstream, seaward. The larger question of how the micro-plastics enter the water system in the first place is discussed by Dr Rachel Hurley, of the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, and Victoria Gill on BBC’s Inside Science, broadcast last month, linked to here.
In tomorrow’s blog I’ll be focusing on how the whirl phenomena influenced the composition itself.