Microplastics Update: January

Journal Articles

Microplastics in the commercial seaweed nori

Microplastic pollution in deep-sea sediments and organisms of the Western Pacific Ocean

Assessment of microplastics release from polyester fabrics: the impact of different washing conditions

Low concentrations and low spatial variability of marine microplastics in oysters (Crassostrea virginica) in a rural Georgia estuary

Performance evaluation of MBR in treating microplastics polyvinylchloride contaminated polluted surface water

Occurrence and removal of microplastics in an advanced drinking water treatment plant (ADWTP)

Can microplastics pose a threat to ocean carbon sequestration?

Microplastics in beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) from the Eastern Beaufort Sea

Environmental samples of microplastics induce significant toxic effects in fish larvae

In the News

Smith, Greenstein Bill Banning Single-Use Plastics Passes Senate

WHO invites experts to join evaluation of microplastics pollution

A plateful of plastic: Visualising the amount of microplastic we eat

Revealed: microplastic pollution is raining down on city dwellers

The 5-gram problem: How Reuters depicted human consumption of microplastics

Microplastics are turning up everywhere

Microplastics distruct local food chains, study finds

New study reveals higher microplastics in London air compared to other cities


International Conference on Waste Management and Remediation Engineering – New York City, U.S.A. (01/30/20-01/31/20)

15th World Convention on Waste Recycling and Reuse – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (02/21/20-02/22/20)

MICRO 2020 Fate and Impact of Microplastics: Knowledge, Actions and Solutions – Arrecife, Spain (11/23/20-11/27/20)

Employment Opportunities

OCEANA – Various Positions

PlasticBank – Various Positions

Microplastics Update: December

Journal Articles

Bioavailability and toxicity of microplastics to fish species: A review

Distribution of microplastics in surface water of the lower Yellow River near estuary

Accumulation of microplastics in typical commercial aquatic species: A case study at a productive aquaculture site in China

Assessment of microplastics in freshwater systems: A review

Focus topics on microplastics in soil: Analytical methods, occurrence, transport, and ecological risks

Microplastics in the New Zealand green lipped mussel Perna canaliculus

The issue of microplastics in marine ecosystems: A bibliometric network analysis

Microplastics in the surface water of small-scale estuaries in Shanghai

Interrelationship of microplastic pollution in sediments and oysters in a seaport environment of the eastern coast of Australia

In the News

Microplastics 1 million times more abundant in the ocean than previously thought

Yes, there’s microplastic in the snow

For some corals, meals can come with a side of microplastics

Microplastics are ‘omnipresent’ in European rivers, scientists say

Sound waves used to separate microplastics from laundry wastewater

Microplastics found in all Arctic belugas tested: SFU study

Tiny Plastic Particles Raise Big Concerns

Why does the Arctic have more plastic than most places on Earth?


UN Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – Santiago, Chile (12/02-12/13)

International Conference on Waste Management and Remediation Engineering – New York City, U.S.A. (01/30/20-01/31/20)

15th World Convention on Waste Recycling and Reuse – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (02/21/20-02/22/20)

Employment Opportunities

OCEANA – Various Positions

PlasticBank – Various Positions

Microplastics Updates October 2019

Journal Articles

Wetland soil microplastics are negatively related to vegetation cover and stem density

First evidence of microplastic contamination in the supraglacial debris of an alpine glacier

Microplastics from mulching film is a distinct habitat for bacteria in farmland soil

River Deltas as hotspots of microplastic accumulation: The case study of the Ebro River (NW Mediterranean)

Chemical and physical changes of microplastics during sterilization by chlorination

Effects of microplastics on greenhouse gas emissions and the microbial community in fertilized soil

Average daily flow of microplastics through a tertiary wastewater treatment plant over a ten-month period

Phytoplankton response to polystyrene microplastics: Perspective from an entire growth period

In the News

The biggest source of microplastics in California coastal waters? Car tires

You’re literally eating microplastics. How you can cut down exposure to them.

Microplastics have invaded the food supply

Hunting for microplastics in your seafood

Scientists piece together microplastics problem in Monterey Bay

New evidence points to microplastics’ toxic impact on the human body

Tracing the Journey of Microplastics in the Arctic

Researchers study microplastics in marine mammals


Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Toronto, Canada (11/03-11/07)

UN Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – Santiago, Chile (12/02-12/13)

15th World Convention on Waste Recycling and Reuse – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (02/21/20-02/22/20)

Employment Opportunities

OCEANA – Communications Officer

PlasticBank – Various Positions

Microplastics Updates September 2019

Journal articles

Effects of microplastics on wastewater and sewage sludge treatment and their removal: A review

An interlaboratory comparison exercise for the determination of microplastics in standard sample bottles

Fusion of microplastics into the mussel byssus

Microplastics as vectors of contaminants

Microplastic pollution on the Persian Gulf shoreline: A case study of Bandar Abbas city, Hormozgan Province, Iran

Distribution and impacts of microplastic incorporation within sea ice

Occurrence of tire wear particles and other microplastics within the tributaries of the Charleston Harbor Estuary, South Carolina, USA

A study on characteristics of microplastic in wastewater of South Korea: Identification, quantification, and fate of microplastics during treatment process

In the news

Microplastics in the Great Lakes: Becoming benthic

Tampa Bay contains 4 billion bits of microplastic, shocking study indicates

New technique can show link between prey and microplastics

WHO says microplastics in water not a health risk, more research needed

Microplastics may now affect how Arctic sea ice forms and melts

Microplastics in freshwater are mostly laundry lint

Microplastics turning up in human stool

Other Plastic News

Brands asked to pay premium for using new plastic

Plastic teabags release microscopic particles into tea

3 ways we are making an impact on plastic pollution

Brands ask consumers for behavior change to reverse the problem with plastics

Conferences (chronological)

6th World Congress on Green Chemistry and Recycling – Seoul, South Korea (10/14-10/15)

Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Toronto, Canada (11/03-11/07)

UN Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – Santiago, Chile (12/02-12/13)

15th World Convention on Waste Recycling and Reuse – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (02/21/20-02/22/20)

Job Opportunities

5 Gyres – Development and Partnerships Manager 

Environmental and Textile Scientists Combating Microplastic Pollution

By: Judith S. Weis

About a year ago, the network of former AAAS Policy Fellows was discussing a call for session proposals for the 2019 AAAS meeting, the theme of which was going to be interdisciplinarity – “Science Transcending Boundaries.” I had long been thinking that environmental scientists concerned about microplastics needed to interact with textile, materials, and fiber scientists, because the vast majority of microplastics in the environment are microfibers, which come off synthetic clothing in washing machines. I know that environmental scientists can find and describe the problem, but we do not have the skills to solve them. Textile scientists have the skills to re-engineer synthetic clothing so that they won’t shed (as many) microfibers.

I proposed this idea to the group, and it was received with enthusiasm. Margaret Murphy, another former fellow, who had spent her fellowship with EPA working on the microplastics issue agreed to organize it with me.

The proposal “Environmental and Textile Scientists Combating Microplastic Pollution” was accepted by AAAS for the meeting. Its description was as follows:

Plastic pollution caused by human activities is everywhere. Beaches covered with plastic bottles, bags, and straws attest to the problem. Microplastics, tiny pieces ranging from a few millimeters to microns in size, are less obvious, but ubiquitous. They have various sources, but the most abundant type in many areas are microfibers from synthetic textiles such as polyester, which can shed thousands of fibers when used or machine-washed. Many of these fibers are too tiny to be trapped in filters and they flow into sewage systems. Some are trapped by sewage treatment plants, but many enter aquatic systems where they number in the trillions or quadrillions. As they are plastic, they do not readily break down. Found everywhere, even in the deepest parts of the ocean, microplastics can attract chemical pollutants from the water and may be eaten by plankton and larger filter feeders such as clams and oysters. Microfibers and their attached pollutants are passed through food webs, and evidence is growing that eating microplastic harms the health of marine animals. The solution to microfiber pollution may lie in short- and long-term approaches: better filtration systems and the design of synthetic fabrics that do not shed fibers, or switching to natural or biosynthetic alternatives. This session brings together environmental scientists who study microplastic pollution and textile scientists who are developing new synthetic fabrics to discuss the problem and proposed solutions.

The final panel consisted of:

·      Dr. Chelsea Rochman, of the University of Toronto   (a “rock star” of microplastic research) Chelsea presented general information about microplastic sources, fates and effects, focusing on microfibers;

·      Dr. Melik Demirel, a materials scientist at Penn State spoke about the biosynthetic fiber he developed called Squitex, which is comparable to the silk found in squid ring teeth. Squitex, made from squid teeth proteins, is self-healing and completely biodegradable the protein; and

·      Sarah Edwards, Director of Eunomia Research & Consulting and Vice President of PWFP who explained a range of policy measures that could be used to reduce microplastics release including:

o   Development of standard test measure to quantify the release of microfibers from clothing;

o   Setting limits of microfiber release effectively leading to garments that shed the most being removed from the market;

o   Extended Producer Responsibility based funding for measures to capture microfibers in the washing machine or as a last resort in the programs to cover the cost

The session had a large interested audience with excellent questions and discussion, making it a huge success.

Following the session, the PR office of Penn State sent out some press releases about Melik Demirels’s work, which were picked up by a number of outlets, for example:   https://www.earth.com/news/biosynthetic-fibers-microplastics/. This is the sort of research that can lead to solutions.

The AAAS meeting was the start of a discussion that should continue. Only through multidisciplinary cooperation can the issue of microplastics begin to be tackled.

Microplastics Updates, March 2019

Journal Articles

Marine microfiber pollution: a review on present status and future challenges 

Microplastics occurrence in edible fish species (Mullus barbatus and Merluccius merluccius) collected in three different geographical subareas of the Mediterranean Sea 

Evaluation of microplastic ingestion by tropical fish from Moorea Island, French Polynesia 

Depuration reduces microplastic content in wild and farmed mussels 

Ingestion and effects of micro- and nano plastics in blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) larvae 

Presence and characterization of microplastics in fish of commercial importance from the Biobio region in central Chile 

Preliminary study and first evidence of presence of microplastics and colorants in green mussel, Perna viridis (Linnaeus, 1758), from southeast coast of India 

Development and validation of an efficient method for processing microplastics in biota samples 

In the news

PE, PP and PS: the most abundant type of microplastics in Mediterranean coastal waters 

Microplastic polluting rivers and seas across the globe, says new research P

Microplastics are most common waste found along Mediterranean coast, study says 

Are natural fibers really better for the environment than microplastic fibers?

Start of scientific research into the health risks of microplastics: does plastic make us sick?

Sea anemones are ingesting plastic microfibers 

Other Plastic News

Scientist discover new mineral icicles, dead mollusks, plastic at the bottom of the Great Blue Hole P

Balloons the number 1 marine debris risk of mortality for seabirds 

New warnings on plastic’s health risks as fracking industry promotes new ‘plastics belt’ build-out

Plastics reach remote pristine environments, scientists say 

Conferences (chronological) S

Impacts of Microplastics in the Urban Environment Conference (Rutgers NJ) (3/28 – 3/29)

IAGLR’s annual Conference on Great Lakes Research (6/10 – 6/14) 

Ocean Heroes Bootcamp (6/28 – 6/30)

Environmental Conference in Cuba (7/1-7/5) 

Job Opportunities

5 Gyres – Development and Partnerships Manager 

Microplastics Updates, February 2019

In the news

Shellfish like mussels avoid ingesting most microplastics, research finds 

Mussels lose grip when exposed to microplastics – study 

New study finds plastic in 50 dead whales, dolphins, seals I

Marine scientists find toxic bacteria on microplastics retrieved from tropical waters 

Britain’s grey seal colony hotspots threatened by microplastics 

Pathogenic bacteria found on microplastics retrieved from Singapore’s Beaches

Singapore beaches hounded by microplastics with pathogenic bacteria 

EU proposes ban on 90% of microplastic pollutants 


Toward an ecotoxicological risk assessment of microplastics: comparison of available hazard and exposure data in freshwaters 

Microplastic contamination in an urban estuary: abundance and distribution of microplastics and fish larvae in the Douro estuary 


AAAS Annual Meeting (2.14 – 2.17) – Scientific Session “Environmental and Textile Scientists Combating Microplastic Pollution” 

IAGLR’s annual Conference on Great Lakes Research

AAAS Annual Meeting (2.14 – 2.17) – Scientific Session “Environmental and Textile Scientists Combating Microplastic Pollution” 

Environmental Conference in Cuba (7/1-7/5) 

Impacts of Microplastics in the Urban Environment Conference (Rutgers NJ) 

IAGLR’s annual Conference on Great

Other Microplastics Resources 

International Joint Commission 

Frank News – January special on Plastics 

Microplastics Updates, October 2018


Consistent microplastic ingestion by deep-sea invertebrates over the last four decades (1976-2015), a study from the North East Atlantic 

Microplastics in the aquatic environment: evidence for or against adverse impacts and major knowledge gaps

Microplastic hotspots in the Snake and Lower Columbia rivers: a journey from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to the Pacific Ocean 

Microplastics in the Arctic: a case study with sub-surface water and fish samples off Northeast Greenland 

Microplastic ingestion by riverine macro invertebrates

Ingested microplaslic as a two-way transporter for PBDEs in Talitrus saltator

How mosquitoes are spreading microplastics from the water into the air 

Microplastics found in 90% of table salt 

Is my washing to blame for the plastic problem? 

In the news 

As synthetic microfibers spread in water, solutions are blossoming 

Researchers show that South Africa has a microplastic problem 

Microplastics found deep in sand where turtles nest 

Commentary/Marine plastic pollution – a planetary environmental problem 

‘Alarming’ level of microplastics found in a major U.S. River 

Mosquitoes may be contaminating ecosystems with tiny bits of plastic 

In a first, microplastics found in human poop 

Microplastics find their way into your gut, a pilot study finds 

New Jersey is pushing one of the strictest plastic bans in the nation. But is it enough? 


The Ocean Cleanup System 001 


Marine Debris research federal funding Job opportunity