British teenager wins global science award for removing microplastics from water

AN IRISH TEENAGER, Fionn Ferreira, 18, has emerged winner of an international science award for his project which removed microplastics from water.

Ferreira, from Ballydehob in west Cork, has been named the overall winner of the 2019 Google Science Fair, a prestigious annual global science competition open to students aged 13 to 18.

The 18-year-old was awarded a $50,000 (about €45,000) bursary at an awards ceremony at the Google international headquarters in Mountain View, California, yesterday.

Ferreira was one of 24 finalists chosen from a shortlist of 100 regional entries that competed for the top prize.

His project examined a new method for extracting microplastics (plastic particles less than 5mm in diameter) from water.

His project comes at a time concerns have been expressed over the infusion of microplastics through into the foodchain

Microplastics or microbeads are mostly used in soaps, shower gels and facial scrubs to exfoliate skin, although they also can be found in toothpaste and abrasive cleaners.

In waterways, fish and other wildlife mistake the tiny scraps of plastic for food and, from there, the beads are integrated into the food chain.

Ferreira stated that his proposal could “form the basis for an effective way of extracting microplastic from water”, adding: “The next step is to scale this up to an industrial scale.”

Ferrier sat his Leaving Certificate exams last month at Schull Community College and is due to attend university in the Netherlands.

The teeanger works as a curator at the Schull Planetarium, has won 12 science fair awards, speaks three languages fluently, plays the trumpet at orchestra level, and had a minor planet named after him by the MIT Lincoln Laboratory

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