1000% more marine microplastics

Microplastics, very small pieces of plastic that pollute the oceans, may be many times more prevalent than previously thought, according to a study, led by Plymouth Marine Laboratory.
Using a finer sampling net has provided between 2.5- and 10-fold greater microplastic concentration respectively, and an extrapolation of the data suggests that by using even finer mesh could result in microplastic concentrations that exceed 3700 microplastics per cubic metre.

The team, which also involved the University of Exeter and the Rozalia Project, further identified that using the finer nets resulted in the collection of significantly thinner and shorter microplastic fibres.

Professor Pennie Lindeque, lead author of the study and head of Marine Ecology and Biodiversity at Plymouth Marine Laboratory, commented: “Our results, based on sampling in the UK and US, suggests we are underestimating the really small pieces of plastic in the marine environment. Using a power law extrapolation we suggest microplastic concentrations could exceed 3700 microplastics per cubic metre. A better understanding of how many microplastics are in our seas and a more detailed description of what type of microplastics they are, helps to determine what risk they pose to marine animals and ecosystems, which in turn can help influence societal behavior and drive future policy intervention.”

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