Toxicology and Societies - Dr. Peter Ross

Title: Microplastic Pollution: Structural Pollutant Meets Endocrine Disrupting Contaminant. 

Plastic pollution has re-emerged into public consciousness over the last two decades, with the scientific community documenting the widespread presence of microplastics (smaller then 5 mm) and litter (larger than 5 mm) in every corner of the world. Plastic pollution differs from chemical pollution in fundamental ways: it is (often) visible, understandable, and tangible – we all buy it, use it, and dispose of it. But the exponential growth in plastic production has overshot society’s ability to manage the waste element – recycling systems cannot keep up; leakage during production escape into the environment; wastewater treatments plants were not designed to address this pollutant; and our global marketplace has made it difficult to conduct adequate life cycle analyses and apply best practices. What is ostensibly a simple, ‘safe’, and multi-faceted material used in a myriad of consumer and industrial products has become a nightmare of global proportions for conservationists and policymakers concerned about a material with virtually no half life. Plastic is persistent and harmful, and presents a global challenge that is exposing profound weaknesses in our research, risk assessment, and policy tools. 

View the recorded presentation through the WWU Alumni site.

About the Speaker: Dr. Peter Ross, Coastal Ocean Research Institute

Image of Peter Ross, the speaker.Dr. Peter S. Ross is the Vice-President of Research at Ocean Wise, a conservation organization based at the Vancouver Aquarium. He is an international authority in the area of ocean pollution, having published over 150 scientific articles and book chapters on the fate and effects of a variety of pollutants of concern in the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. He is a frequent advisor to conservation teams in different parts of the world, and has provided advice in support of chemical regulation, species at risk, ocean disposal and ocean health. He founded the Ocean Pollution Research Program at the Vancouver Aquarium (Ocean Wise) in 2014 after 16 years as a federal Research Scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. He and his team launched PollutionTracker (, the first comprehensive monitoring program for pollutants of concern in coastal British Columbia; Ocean Watch (, a coast-wide ocean health report card; and the Plastics Lab, a dedicated high resolution facility working with industry, government agencies and academia on microplastic pollution sources, fate and effects. His work with microplastics has led to numerous invitations to advise industry, government, the G7 and the OECD.

Registration for this event is closed, but you can watch the recorded presentation through the WWU alumni site.

Nov 19, 2020 11 -12 pm (PST).

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