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Chelsea Rochman is an assistant professor of ecology at the University of Toronto and scientific advisor to the Ocean Conservancy. In today’s episode, she shares important insight from her research on anthropogenic contaminants in the environment and the organisms within it.

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Press play to learn:

  • How the environmental impacts of micro and macroplastics differ
  • What are some of the main dominant pathways for waste getting into the environment and how they differ depending on geographical location
  • What type of filtration solution works well for keeping microplastics out of the environment
  • Why it’s difficult to understand the role of nanoparticles in the environment

Rochman’s research revolves around anthropogenic contaminants—what happens when they are added to the environment, how they interact with animals and plants, how they impact species and aquatic ecosystems, where they most frequently enter the environment, and what types of effects different contaminants have on different aspects of the environment.

For over ten years, Rochman has focused on plastic contamination. By taking samples from various environmental sources and the guts of organisms, she quantifies and characterizes the plastics found, which allows her to not only conduct further research on how specific contaminants impact organisms, but also propose to industry and municipalities more sustainable ways of utilizing and managing plastics. Much of the research in this field has shown that the smaller the plastic, the more likely it is to have an impact on organisms, and those impacts range from changes in growth patterns to low offspring viability.

In addition to discussing these topics in depth, Rochman touches on types of ecotoxicology research, trophic transfer of microplastics, bioaccumulation and biomagnification of microplastics, and the chemistry of the environment.

For more information on Rochman’s work, visit

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