Plastics in Clean Water

Cayla Cook

Cayla Cook

Microplastics Lead
Carollo Engineers

Micro and Nanoplastics Contamination, Regulation, and Mitigation Strategies for Drinking Water


MNPs are polymeric particles which occur at a size range of less than 5 mm and 1 µm, respectively, pose considerable public health threats through their association with various cancers, diseases, and adsorbed concentrations of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) that are orders of magnitude higher than found in the environment.  MNP pollution may pose considerable challenges for water and wastewater treatment plants in the future due to possible toxicity of particles and associated contaminants, harmful by-products following disinfection (DBPs), the potential to decrease biogas production in resource recovery facilities, and environmental and agricultural implications of mass land-application via biosolids.  Future mitigation strategies through targeted water and wastewater treatment process design includes both novel and traditional solutions. This presentation will walk through characterization challenges that utilities face in their attempt to monitor MNPs, key questions and concerns for the public’s exposure via these facilities, and the engineer’s toolbox for preventing their release back into the environment.

About the Speaker

Cayla Cook works as a civil and environmental engineer that focuses on process design, process analysis, and infrastructure planning for water and wastewater treatment plants at Carollo Engineers, Inc. Her projects include facilities with capacities between 1 million gallons per day (MGD) and 200 MGD that impacts more than 1 million people within the service area. She is Carollo’s national expert of micro-and nanoplastic contamination of drinking water and wastewater systems and studies removal technologies, human health impacts, and analytical techniques for quantification.


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