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Embedding citizens within airborne microplastic and microfibre research

Williams, Ben; De Vito, Laura; Margarida Sardo, Ana; Pringle, Kirsty; Hansen, Mark; Taylor, Mark; Lamb-Riddell, Kathryn; Laggan, Sophie; Cox, Tim; Radford, Freya; Hayes, Enda

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Dr Ben Williams
Senior Research Fellow in Air Quality Management

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Dr Laura De Vito
Senior Research Fellow in Air Quality Management

Kirsty Pringle

Mark Hansen
Professor of Machine Vision and Machine Learning

Mark Taylor

Kathryn Lamb-Riddell

Sophie Laggan

Freya Radford

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Enda Hayes
Prof in Air Quality & Carbon Management/School Director (Research & Enterprise)


Microplastics are ubiquitous in our environment but their presence in air is less well understood. Homes are likely a key source of airborne microplastics and microfibres to the environment owing to the frequent use and storage of plastics and textiles within them. Studying their presence, concentration and distribution in these environments is difficult without the participation of citizens due to accessibility challenges. Few studies have examined the intricacies of the prevalence of indoor microplastics and microfibres or the link between indoor exposure and behavioural and regulatory approaches that could reduce their concentrations. The application of a quintuple innovation helix framework, within which a co-creative citizen science research methodology is applied, provides an opportunity for citizens to shape the scientific method, ensuring that methods are accessible and appropriate for widespread use and designed by the citizen, for the citizen. Exploring behaviours and motivations in plastic and textile use by citizens with industry may reduce the generation of these particles. Future studies should consider the importance of citizen inclusion when designing research strategies for measuring and reducing microplastic concentrations in homes, enabling a nuanced understanding of their generation and distribution, facilitating the development of appropriate behavioural, industrial and regulatory messaging and mitigative measures.


Williams, B., De Vito, L., Margarida Sardo, A., Pringle, K., Hansen, M., Taylor, M., …Hayes, E. (2023). Embedding citizens within airborne microplastic and microfibre research. Cambridge Prisms: Plastics, 1(e11), 1-5.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 29, 2023
Online Publication Date Jul 10, 2023
Publication Date Jul 10, 2023
Deposit Date Jul 7, 2023
Publicly Available Date Aug 3, 2023
Journal Cambridge Prisms: Plastics
Publisher Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 1
Issue e11
Pages 1-5
Public URL
Publisher URL


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