September is Microplastics Awareness Month!

Monday, September 19, 2016 by Ciera Akins

Plastic pollution is a problem that is impacting marine ecosystems in large ways through very small plastic particles called microplastics. Because plastic never fully breaks down, it only gets smaller and smaller, there is a huge abundance of microplastics, especially in our waterways. They have been found in every water source in the globe near humans. Microplastics are small plastic particles that are hard to detect, as they are not visible to the eye but are considered a contaminant because they release toxins as they break down. Toxins also stick to the microplastic particles in water sources and are consumed by animals, causing them to obtain many health issues from the bioaccumulation in tissues and biomagnification in food webs of such toxins.

 

Here are some pictures of microplastics from seawater samples under a microscope. There are clear plastic chunks, round colorful shapes, and fibers. A lot of our clothes and bathing suits are made of “plastic” or synthetic material that sheds and contributes to microplastic abundance.

Microplastics are extremely harmful to the ecosystems they have been found in and to human and animal health. What can you do to help eliminate this problem?

 

Stop using single use plastic! Plastic bags, water bottles, straws, plastic silverware and red solo cups are all examples of single use plastic.

 Refuse, Reuse, Recycle.

 

Be aware of your plastic use and educate others, together we can make a difference.



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