Modelling microplastics in aquatic environments

This project modeled how microplastics are transported and broken down in aquatic environments, building on existing environmental fate models for nanoparticles and other contaminants.

Organized by Cefic

Researchers / Institutional Affiliations

Principal Investigator

  • Matthew MacLeod
    Stockholm University


  • Dr Antonia Praetorius
    University of Amsterdam
    (The Netherlands)
  • Dr Maria del Prado Domercq
    Stockholm University


March 2019 to March 2021

Additional Information

Environmental fate models can provide exposure predictions, improve process understanding and evaluate future scenarios. Existing modelling approaches for engineered nanoparticles offer a suitable starting point for nano- and microplastic fate models. Adjustments are required to account for wider size range, typically lower density of plastic particles, and possible weathering and fragmentation. This project set out to extend models of the environmental fate and transport of nanoparticles to open-source models for microplastics in aquatic systems, hence the project name of Nano2Plast. Predicted environmental concentrations and distributions between environmental compartments were calculated using these models for various microplastics. The microplastics model will be used with an open-source model of a regional-scale river, and integrated into BETR Global, an open-source, global-scale multimedia contaminant fate model.

Further details are available here.

Professional Presentations

Praetorius A, McLeod M. Fate and transport models for nano- and microplastics. SETAC Europe SciCon 30th Annual Meeting, May 2020, online. Available here

Published Papers

Domercq P, Praetorius A, MacLeod M. The Full Multi: An open-source framework for modelling the transport and fate of nano- and microplastics in aquatic systems. Environmental Modelling & Software, Volume 148, 2022, 105291, ISSN 1364-8152. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsoft.2021.105291. Available here.