Natural History Museum/Royal Holloway University research findings – plastic pollution severe in the Thames

Scientists from the Natural History Museum and Royal Holloway, University of London, collected rubbish over a three-month period at the end of 2012 from seven locations along the river bed of the upper Thames estuary.

The resulting report: ‘Plastic in the Thames: A river runs through it’, reveals the following:

– Sub-surface rubbish items intercepted in fyke-nets in the River Thames

Assorted submerged rubbish collected from Thames fyke nets trials

– The trapping of 8490, mainly plastic, items during a three month period

– Over 20% of rubbish items were components of sanitary products

– Most contaminated sites were in the vicinity of sewage treatment works

– Evidence for significant sub-surface transport of rubbish in the Thames Estuary


Dr Paul Clark, a researcher at the Natural History Museum and co-author of the study, said:

“Plastic can have a damaging impact on underwater life. Large pieces can trap animals but smaller pieces can be inadvertently eaten. The toxic chemicals they contain, in high doses, could harm the health of wildlife.”

Read yesterday’s Guardian article.