Source to Sea National Park micro plastic swim

03rd March, 2020

Laura Sanderson is embarking on an epic research swim of the UK’s National Park rivers.

The 908km swim in 15 rivers is part of a research project, Source to Sea, looking at micro plastics, believed to be the first of its kind. Starting at the source of each river, Laura will collect 220 litres of water to analyse for micro plastics, which are invisible to the naked eye.

Working with Dr Christian Dunn of Banger University, the samples will be analysed and the effects of micro plastics studied. The results will be published in an academic research paper in order to inform scientific research on this emergent issue in partnership with Bangor University.

This project follows Dr Dunn’s study in 2019 that found micro plastics in all ten of the UK’s most iconic lakes. The findings suggested that micro-plastics should now be considered as an emergent contaminant – and that routine monitoring of all UK waters must now take place.

Last March Laura completed the first National Park swim in Snowdonia, collecting water samples along the way. Micro plastics were found in all samples, tripling in numbers by the time the water reached the sea.

Laura says “Currently the U.K government allows tests for pollutants in waterways to take place. However, there is no pollutant test for micro-plastics. We aim to use this scientific evidence to ensure our inland waterways are tested for levels of micro plastics pollution. To give you an idea of the distance of the swim it will be the equivalent of swimming the length of my home country Wales three and a half times”.

  • Source to Sea aims to raise awareness of the need for a national monitoring system for inland waterways. There will be river clean-ups and educational presentations with opportunities for individuals and organisations to get involved along the way.