Swimming to raise awareness for plastic pollution


Every day, the Danube carries four tons of plastic into the Black Sea. Thilo Hofmann and Thorsten Hüffer from EDGE are collaborating on a project that analytically investigates this plastic pollution and aims to draw attention to it. Project leader Andreas Fath, Professor of Chemistry at Furtwangen University (Germany), will be swimming the Danube next spring. Thorsten Hüffer is going to accompany him for part of the way.

Information, educational workshops and a mobile laboratory - the "cleandanube" project couples education and research on the topic of microplastics. In spring 2022, chemist Andreas Fath will swim the Danube from the Black Forest to the Black Sea and collect daily water samples. The environmental geoscientists from EDGE will support him in analysing these samples. In particular, they will look for plastic additives as micropollutants in water and sediment samples Hence, Vienna will not merely be a stopover in the swimming project, but also plays an important role in the accompanying research: Thilo Hofmann and Thorsten Hüffer have already been cooperating with Andreas Fath for years in researching and analysing plastics and plastic residues in waters. In an ongoing project, the research team has investigated how strongly trace substances dissolved in water, e.g. hormonally active substances, may be bound to plastics. The aim of this research is to make a virtue out of necessity: The researchers want to produce a filter material from plastic waste in order to contribute to the recycling of plastic.

Their commitment to the topic is not limited to research: Environmental chemist Thorsten Hüffer will accompany Andreas Fath on his swim across the Danube next spring. On August 3, a one-hour test swim took place, during which the two scientists swam 5 kilometres through Vienna - just a small part of the average 45 kilometers Andreas Fath hopes to cover daily in the spring of 2022. The "cleandanube" project is organised by AWP - association for wildlife protection e.V., a non-profit organisation from Germany.