From: University of Washington
Published July 6, 2017 05:44 PM

UW oceanography senior finds plastic microfibers are common on Puget Sound beaches

As the infamous floating “garbage patch” churns up bits of plastic in the tropical Pacific Ocean, a University of Washington undergraduate has discovered a related problem much closer to home: nearly invisible bits of plastic on Puget Sound beaches.

As a year-long project toward a UW bachelor’s degree, the oceanography major visited 12 beaches around Puget Sound to tally the number of microplastics, generally classified as fragments between 0.3 and 5 millimeters (1/100 to 1/5 of an inch) or smaller than a grain of rice.

While she found all the Puget Sound beaches to be clean when compared with the Mediterranean Sea, local shores are far from pristine. Residents also may be surprised to learn that polar fleece and other synthetic fibers are the main source of plastic fragments on our beaches.

Continue reading at University of Washington

Image: Oceanography senior Frances Eshom-Arzadon collects beach sediment at Edmonds Marina Beach in February. She sampled each beach in the same way and at the same point in the tidal cycle to allow comparisons between sites.  Credit: Earl Arzadon

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