Laboratoire Eau Environnement et Systèmes Urbains (Leesu)

Recent publications

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Phosphorus recycling from human excreta in French agroecosystems and potential for food self-sufficiency
Thomas Starck, Tanguy Fardet, Fabien Esculier
, 2024, ⟨10.1007/s10705-024-10367-4⟩
Monitoring microplastics in the Seine River in the Greater Paris area
Cleo Stratmann, Rachid Dris, Johnny Gasperi, Frans Buschman, Adriaan Markus, Sabrina Guerin, A. Dick Vethaak, Bruno Tassin
, 2024, 12, ⟨10.3389/feart.2024.1386547⟩
Litter in French urban areas — Part 2: transport dynamic and fluxes in stormwater
Lauriane Ledieu, Romain Tramoy, David Mabilais, Sophie Ricordel, Marie-Laure Mosini, Alexandra Mosset, Bernard Flahaut, Laetitia Pineau, Zoé Bridant, Eric Bouchet, Clémence Bruttin, Fabrice Rodriguez, Bruno Tassin, Johnny Gasperi
, 2024, ⟨10.1007/s11356-024-33774-0⟩
Fluorescence spectroscopy for tracking microbiological contamination in urban waterbodies
Natália Angelotti de Ponte Rodrigues, Rémi Carmigniani, Arthur Guillot-Le Goff, Françoise S Lucas, Claire Therial, Manel Naloufi, Aurélie Janne, Francesco Piccioni, Mohamed Saad, Philippe Dubois, Brigitte Vinçon-Leite
, 2024, 6, ⟨10.3389/frwa.2024.1358483⟩
Séparation à la source des excrétats : bases pour des règles professionnelles
Florent Brun, Fabien Esculier, Bernard de Gouvello
, 2024, GE1029v1, ⟨10.51257/a-v1-ge1029⟩

Supervisory authorities

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Plastic debris: from macro- to micro-plastics - Presentation of research projects

by Daniel Thevenot - published on , updated on

Plastic debris in urban area and freshwater


Research projects on plastic debris have been launched in 2014 in by Johnny Gasperi and Bruno Tassin. Since 2020, this research field is advised by Bruno Tassin, Rachid Dris, in collaboration with Johnny Gasperi, presently member of Gustave Eiffel University staff. Plastic litter (> 5 mm) and microplastics (< 5 mm) are both considered. Research projects are carried out in the framework of former Leesu research themes:

The specific aims of these projects are the study of the sources, the fluxes and the fate of plastic debris in urban area and in freshwater continuum, from river to estuary.

Main objectives

1. To develop a robust methodology to analyse and characterize plastic debris in different urban matrixes (wastewater, WWTP effluents, combined sewer overflow, stormwater)


Microplastic observed by stereomicroscope @LEESU

2. To assess the fluxes of plastic debris (from micro to macroplastics - plastic litter) at the scale of Paris Megacity including urban fluxes, imported and exported fluxes, etc.


Floating boom from SIAAP: sampling of plastic litter in the Seine River @LEESU

3. To evaluate plastic debris (both micro and macroplastics) in freshwater depending on the hydrodynamic conditions (low levels periods, floods, etc.). Methodological challenges related to microplastic sampling in rivers and to different sampling strategies were developed in order to assess their temporal and spatial variabilities.

4. To study the interaction between microplastics and micropollutants.

Research projects and collaborations

Several projects were launched at both national and international scales.

At the French scale, microplastic are studied in the framework of the OPUR, PIREN-Seine, and GIP Seine Aval research programs.

Research projects on plastic debris conducted at Leesu

Overview of research projects focused on plastic debris

1. Active French projects

  • 2020-2022 PLASTOC - Plastic debris in urban runoff and fresh water.
  • 2020-2022 PlastiNet – Capture of plastic debris in urban runoff using nets.
  • 2020 - 2022 Sédi-Plast - Microplastics in continental sediments and sedimentary archives
    • Projet funded by ANR
    • Collaboration : Laboratoire Eau, Environnement (LEE), Institut de Chimie de Clermont Ferrand (ICCF), Laboratoire GéoHydrosystèmes continentaux (GeHCO), Laboratoire d’Ecologie des Hydrosystèmes Naturels et Anthropisés à Lyon (LEHNA), Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement (LSCE), UMR METIS
  • 2019 - 2021 Eau-Plast - Microplastics in water for human consumption
    • Projet with SEDIF
    • Collaboration : Sedif, Veolia, Laboratoire Eau, Environnement (LEE)
2. Active European project
  • 2019 - 2023 Limno-Plast - Microplastics in Europe’s freshwater ecosystems: From sources to solutions
    • H2020-MSCA-ITN-2019 (Head: Christian Laforsh, Bayreuth University)
    • Collaboration : 24 partners.
3. Completed research projects
  • 2017 - 2020 MACRO-Plast – Assessment of plastic debris fluxes from Seine river to ocean
  • 2017 - 2020 PLASTIC-Seine Microplastics fluxes and impacts within Seine River estuary
    • Projet within GIP Seine Aval / CPIER Val-de-Seine. Projet co-administred by Johnny Gaspery (LEE) and Jérôme Cachot (EPOC).
    • Collaboration : Laboratoire Eau, Environnement (LEE), Ifremer Brest, La Rochelle et Port-en-Bessin, EPOC, UCO, Université de Lille.
    • Final research report
  • 2017 - 2020 Dyna-Plast - Plastic fiber dynamics in the Environment (atmosphere, aquatic media)
    • Exploratory projet exploratoire funded by I-SITE FUTURE
    • Collaboration : École des Ponts ParisTech (LHSV, CEREA), ESIEE (ESYCOM)
  • 2015 - 2019 Micro-Plast – Microplastics within Seine river catchment
    • Funded by Phase 7 of PIREN-Seine programme et OPUR
    • Collaborations : Unité Physicochimie et Ecotoxicologie des Sols d’Agrosystèmes Contaminés (INRA), UMR Environnement et Grandes Cultures (INRA-AgroParisTech), UMR géographie-cités de l’Université (Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne), équipe Systèmes Polymères Complexes (Institut de chimie et des matériaux de Paris-Est).
  • 2016 - 2017 MICRO-Ecotocicological impact of microplastics in surface water : study of their ingestion by chevesne fish within Seine River
    • Projet funded by Université Paris Est and the European PRESTIGE programme
    • Collaboration: SIAAP, Université de Liège
  • 2014 - 2016 PLASTIC-AIR – Inner and outer atmospheric contamination de by microplastics
    • Multidisciplinary projet funded by Health and Society departments of Université Paris Est.
    • Collaboration: Health and comfort direction of the centre scientifique et technique du bâtiment (CSTB), équipe Systèmes Polymères Complexes (Institut de chimie et des matériaux de Paris-Est)
  • 2012 - 2015 Microplastics within anthropised river bassins : focus on urban zones and Ile-de-France region
    • Funded by Phase 4 of OPUR programme.
    • Collaboration: SIAAP, équipe Systèmes Polymères Complexes (Institut de chimie et des matériaux de Paris-Est).
4. International collaborations
  • Collaboration with CARE (Centre asiatique de recherche sur l’Eau of the Rescif network) at Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)

Macro and microplastic contamination assessment of a tropical river (Saigon River, Vietnam) transversed by a developing megacity. L. Lahens, E. Strady, C. Thuy khieu, R. Dris, K. Boukermaa, E. Rinnert, J. Gasperi, B. Tassin. Environmental Pollution, 2018, 236, 661-671.

  • Collaboration with the Center of Ecology and Environmental Research of Bayreuth University (Germany)

Beyond the ocean: Contamination of freshwater ecosystems with (micro-) plastic particles. R. Dris, H. Imhof, W. Sanchez, J. Gasperi, F. Galgani, B. Tassin, C. Laforsch. Enviromental chemistry, 2015, 12, 539-550.

Microplastic Contamination in Freshwater Systems: Methodological Challenges, Occurrence and Sources. R. Dris, H. Imhof, M. Löder, J. Gasperi, C. Laforsch, B. Tassin. In book: Microplastic Contamination in Aquatic Environments, 1st Edition, An Emerging Matter of Environmental Urgency, Elsevier, 2018, 43 p.

  • Collaboration with the Centre for Environment and Health of King’s College in London (Angleterre)

Microplastics in air: are we breathing in it? J. Gasperi, S. Wright, R. Dris, F. Kelly, F. Collard, C. Mandin, M. Guerrouache, V. Langlois, B. Tassin. Current Opinion in Environmental Science and Health, 2018, 1, 1-5.

  • Collaboration with Université de Liège (Belgium), within Micro-Plast project

Occurrence of anthropogenic particles in the freshwater fish Squalius cephalus. F. Collard, J. Gasperi, B. Gilbert, G. Eppe, S. Azimi, V. Rocher, B. Tassin. Science of Total Environnent, 2018, 643, 1257-1264

  • Collaboration with institutions from several countries such as «The Ocean Clean up» foundation in the netherlands, CARE in Vietnam and the «Modelling House Limited» in new Zeeland

A Methodology to Characterize Riverine Macroplastic Emission into the Ocean. T. van Emmerik, C. Kieu-Le, M. Loozen, K. van Oeveren, E. Strady, X-T. Bui, M. Egger, J. Gasperi, L. Lebreton, P-D. Nguyen, A. Schwarz, B. Slat, B. Tassin. Frontiers, 2018, doi: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00372.

National and international recognition

Scientific recognition
  • 16 international publications (> 850 citations)
  • 4 international book chapters
  • 1 finished PhD thesis (R. Dris), 5 ongoing PhD thesis (R. Treilles, N. Bouzid, M. Beaurepaire, C. Stratmann and Trang Nguyen)
  • 3 finished post-doctoral internship (F. Collard, R. Tramoy and R. Dris) ) and 1 ongoing post-doctoral interships (R. Tramoy)

Samples of Leesu publications on plastic debris

International collaborations
  • United Kingdom, Germany, Vietnam, Belgium, The Netherlands
  • Development of an European Network (Cost action)
  • International Training Network - Limno-Plast - Microplastics in Europe’s freshwater ecosystems: from sources to solutions (18 partners)
Expertise and National collaborations
  • French group of normalisation on microplastics
  • CNRS research group (GDR) on microplastics : organisation of GDR conference on June 24 - 26 2019
Research valorisation
  • Conferences at Paris “Cité des Sciences” and at “Universités du Temps Libre”
  • Numerous contributions to newspaper, radio and TV broadcast
Johnny Gaspéri, Leesu, UPEC

Media impact of reseach projects conducted at Leesu on plastic debris

Take home message

  • First scientific studies revealing the presence of microplastics in atmosphere and air,
  • First scientific studies on microplastics in urban aera,
  • Among the first scientific studies focused on freshwater in Europe.