Are We Underestimating Microplastics in the Marine Environment?


A new study suggests an underestimation of microplastics in the ocean.

By using finer 100μm (0.1mm) sampling nets rather than customary 333μm (0.333mm) or 500μm (0.5mm) coarser sampling nets, the team – led by Plymouth Marine Laboratory and including the University of Exeter – have built a picture of the extent to which microplastics in coastal waters have been underestimated.

The findings show that sampling using 100μm mesh nets resulted in the collection of 2.5- and 10-fold greater microplastic concentration respectively compared with the 333μm and 500μm meshes.

Extrapolation of the data suggests that by using a 1μm mesh, microplastic concentrations could exceed 3700 microplastics per cubic metre.

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