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Homes under the microscope – a citizen science project


When we think of plastic in our homes, we often think of plastic bottles and packaging. But our homes also contain an increasing amount of hidden plastics, such as in textiles and furnishings – clothes, carpets, curtains, blinds and even our beds.

These tiny fragments known as microplastics can float around our homes until they are inhaled, settle on a surface, or escape into the environment through windows and doors. It is known that indoor concentrations are generally higher than outdoor, but there isn’t alot of information available on how much microplastic is floating around, how common it is, or how to reduce it.

Person at laptop on sofaIn November 2021, Bristol Green Capital Partnership and UWE Bristol co-hosted a workshop with the ONE Show’s Marty Jopson about Homes Under the Microscope – an innovative project run by UWE Bristol and the University of Leeds. The project has been using citizen science to investigate the main sources and distribution of airborne microplastics in the home and the behaviours and decisions that underpin its generation indoors, with a view to informing future textile production and policy.

The study has been counting how many airborne microplastic particles there are in a wide range of different houses with an easy to use kit. Since the workshop, the project has been co-developed with citizens and their feedback has led to streamlining the process, choosing the most user-friendly microscopes and targeting specific areas of the house where there is most variance in levels of microplastics.

The project is now entering its exciting Phase 2 and at February’s Green Mingle, we will be joined by Ben Williams, Senior Research Fellow with UWE’s Air Quality Management Resource Centre, who will share more information about the project. There will also be an opportunity to collect an experiment pack and take part yourself.

Find out how many microplastics are in your home and be part of a community of citizen scientists answering important questions and making a realHomes under the microscope logo difference to society.

The Green Mingle is taking place Thursday 2 February at Bristol Beacon, sign up for this friendly networking event.

For more information and to sign up to take part in Homes Under the Microscope, visit the project website.

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