An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Orange County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Microplastics: A macro threat

Eight trillion microbeads enter into marine habitats every day in the United States alone. That’s enough to cover over 300 tennis courts every day, according to a research paper published in September in the Environmental Science and Technology journal.

Maia McGuire of University of Florida Institute Food and Agricultural Sciences has made it her passion to spread awareness about microplastics. McGuire was awarded a Marine Debris grant from NOAA to continue her research.

“I have this great new project called Florida Microplastic Awareness Project. This was funded by a grant from NOAA’s Marine Debris Project,” says McGuire.

Volunteers help McGuire collect water samples along the coast and look for the presence of plastic. “Microplastics are microscopic pieces of plastic debris, generally defined as being less than 5 millimeters in size,” says McGuire.

The type of microplastics that are found in everyday products such as face wash, toothpaste, deodorant and even cosmetics are called microbeads. They are made of polyethylene or polypropylene and they are contaminating the world’s oceans.