Research published late last year identified that tyre particles are a significant source of microplastics in the world’s oceans and rivers.
For the first part of this project, the government agency has identified suitable methods for collecting and analysing samples of road runoff to establish the presence or absence of microplastics.
Highways England has said they hope that by analysing these samples it will enable them to understand the scale of this issue better and ensure that the understanding of the environmental effects associated with the Strategic Road Network (SRN) is up to date and that the assessment and design guidance standards which are published and maintained in the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) are robust.
‘The outcome of further research will be the evidence base to inform future decision making, enabling us to take positive action to manage identified risks, inform policy and identify further areas of research.’
Helen Wakeham, environment agency deputy director of water quality, groundwater & contaminated Land, added: ‘This research contributes to the work we do with partners to understand the sources and scale of microplastic pollution.
‘We supported this research by Highways England as it provided a valuable review into the current knowledge of the potential scale of microplastic and chemical pollution from highways. We look forward to continuing work with Highways England on this important topic as the work progresses. This will help us better understand the contribution from the road network as a source of microplastics and emerging chemicals of concern entering the environment.’