Research of international significance in the field of microplastics testing

A PhD degree from a WESSLING colleague is also a scientific and practical breakthrough

As the culmination of several years of diversified research, Gábor Bordós, the project manager of WESSLING Hungary Kft., successfully defended his doctoral (PhD) dissertation entitled “Investigation of the environmental occurrence of microplastics”. The research results of the Hungarian University of Agricultural and Life Sciences (MATE) and WESSLING Hungary Kft., which operates independent laboratories, can be of great help in mapping and managing global problems caused by microplastics. Along with the plans of a dedicated and talented young researcher, scientific research and practical implementation took place simultaneously in collaboration with a university and a service company.

Microplastics are one of the most serious environmental challenges of our time. One of the most important tasks is to map the situation: to develop the most accurate measurements possible (sampling and laboratory tests) and to standardize the methods. Gábor Bordós took a significant step in both fields at international level, developing new sampling and sample preparation methods and tools with his colleagues and MATE experts in the framework of several important Hungarian projects and in his PhD research led by Dr. Sándor Szoboszlay, associate professor. He also performed the first domestic microplastic measurements in surface waters.

Key scientific results

Gábor Bordós and his colleagues first detected the presence of microplastics in Hungarian surface waters (including fish pond waters) in the size range of 0.1-2 mm, stating that their average concentration is 21.5 pcs / m3 (in the range of 3.52-32.05 pcs / m3). In addition, the material type of the granules was determined: the most common materials are polypropylene and polyethylene. A plastic-free, universally applicable sampling device has been developed to determine the microplastic content of surface waters, with flexible elements made of rubber and filters and filter housings made of stainless steel. By connecting the filters in series, a large amount of samples (up to 2 m3) can be filtered from surface waters even on a filter with a small pore diameter (25 µm), which is a significant advance in international microplastics research. A new tool has also been developed during the development of sample preparation, which recovers samples (in this case artificially produced plastic particles) with an efficiency of 64 percent.

 

Gábor Bordós was already involved in the issue of biodegradable plastics at the end of the 2000s, at the Buda Campus of the Corvinus University of Budapest. He continued the research in Gödöllő, in parallel with his MSc course in the Institute of Aquaculture and Environment Safety, led by Dr. Szoboszlay Sándor. The associate professor and renowned researcher of MATE still supports Gábor Bordós with his expertise, experience and advice, it is no coincidence that Gábor also wrote his dissertation on the same topic. From 2015, he also dealt with the current problems of the environmental market at WESSLING Hungary Kft. In connection with the research results of the employees of the German parent company, he first encountered the issue of microplastics up close. After thoroughly researching the theoretical background of the topic (attended professional conferences, published a scientific article in the Journal of Food Testing), took part in Happy Fish (“Development of a new risk management model system to increase water and food safety on the fish product line”) and MMM (“Microplastics Freshwater Sampling methodology and sample preparation ") projects, he applied the acquired knowledge in practice: he carried out the first Hungarian microplastics measurements, then developed tools and methods. These became the main pillars of his PhD work. He presented his results at several national and international conferences, published in scientific journals (such as Water Research), with an overall impact factor of 28.25 for its first author and correspondent author publications, helping the wider understanding of this new environmental protection challenge. In 2019, he was awarded the “For the Environment” certificate by the Association of Environmental Service Providers and Manufacturers for his work in the field.

 

The results detailed in the PhD dissertation are significant not only in Hungary but also internationally: Gábor Bordós, with the scientific guidance of MATE and the professional help of WESSLING Hungary Kft., has made important progress in the field of sampling, sample preparation and measurement.

Based on the first measurements and results in Hungary, it can be stated that there is a great need for standardization and standardization of sampling methods, the same is true for sample preparation. The steps taken in this direction have also been accepted by the international scientific community on the basis of articles published in the leading scientific journal Water Research.

The main goal of the PhD work is to create new scientific results, but according to Gábor Bordós, it is also extremely important that all this has been realized in practice, as the accreditation of the methods is already in progress.

Congratulations on our colleague's doctorate and summa cum laude qualification!