Impacts on ecosystem functions and human health by environmental plastics and associated chemicals

Graphical abstract
Graphical abstract of P-LEACH

P-LEACH assesses the impact of chemicals from globally increasing environmental plastic pollution on ecosystem functions and human health. Plastics impact ecosystems as a new habitat for colonization (“plastisphere”), and weathering leads to fragmentation and leaching of chemicals, including harmful additives (e.g., plasticizers, bisphenols, metals). Our multidisciplinary consortium jointly characterizes these pollutants and their synergistic impacts on ecosystem functions with a strong focus on microbial geochemical cycles in realistic aquatic settings along the land-coast-ocean continuum and at hot spots (German Bight, North Atlantic and Pacific Gyres, Lyngøyne/NO). P-LEACH also addresses human health effects using human cell lines and human tissues.

Project coordinators
Annika Jahnke (annika.jahnke[at]ufz.de)
Gunnar Gerdts (gunnar.gerdts[at]awi.de)

Project partners
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ
Annika Jahnke (annika.jahnke[at]ufz.de)
Mechthild Schmitt-Jansen (mechthild.schmitt[at]ufz.de)

Alfred-Wegener-Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI)
Gunnar Gerdts (gunnar.gerdts[at]awi.de)
Gisela Lannig (gisela.lannig[at]awi.de)

Helmholtz Centre hereon
Jürgen Gandraß (juergen.gandrass[at]hereon.de)
Daniel Pröfrock (daniel.proefrock[at]hereon.de)

GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
Aaron Beck (ajbeck[at]geomar.de)

The topics of the seven postdoctoral projects are:

UFZ: #1: Plastic-associated chemicals in water, aquatic biota and humans, #2: Effects of plastics and related chemicals on microbial ecosystem biodiversity, functions and services
AWI: #3: Emissions of micro-, submicron- and nanoplastics from plastic litter, #4: Bioenergetic studies in aquatic animals challenged by plastic pollution and related chemicals
HEREON: #5: Target analysis and suspect screening of plastic-associated chemicals, #6: Fingerprinting analysis and statistics to study the role of inorganic contaminant de/sorption from plastic
GEOMAR: #7: Biogeochemical controls on leaching of plastic additives and their toxicity to human cells

First in-person meeting of the consortium
Pre-kickoff meeting at UFZ in September, 2021