This scholarship has been developed in conjunction with The DTA Future Societies programme, which will support solutions-driven research that tackles the world’s most pressing challenges, with projects guided by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Interview date: 27 May 2021
Microplastics (plastic particles <1mm) are the most widespread and abundant form of solid waste on Earth. The concentration of microplastics in air within indoor human environments is, however, orders of magnitude greater than those outside and these microplastics can be inhaled by humans. The average human adult potentially inhales 74,000 to 121,000 microplastics per year. The majority (~90%) of these microplastics are synthetic fibres from textiles which are shed into the air during wear.
Occupational exposures to airborne microplastic fibres amongst workers in the textile and flocking industries have been found to be associated with interstitial lung disease, cardiac and autoimmune disease, and lung cancer. However, the mechanisms by which microplastics may accumulate within the different compartments of the lung, and their potential impact on pathways relevant to disease, remain poorly understood.
Our pilot data shows that plastic microfibres are directly linked to increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. This may indicate a harmful effect of inhaled microplastic fibres.
This successful applicant for this project will receive a Vice Chancellor’s PhD Scholarship which covers Home tuition fees and provides a UKRI equivalent minimum annual stipend for three years. For 2021/2 this will be £15,609 per year. The award is subject to the successful candidate meeting the scholarship terms and conditions. Please note that the University asserts the right to claim any intellectual property generated by research it funds.