UF Researchers Surprised to Find Microplastics in Florida Keys Lagoons


The sudden, highly abundant presence of microplastics in the samples that came as a surprise.

Researchers conducting a planned University of Florida-led study on plankton in two lagoons of the Florida Keys stumbled upon an unexpected presence in the course of their routine sampling: microplastics.

A new publication in the journal Scientific Reports details the discovery of “widespread presence of high concentrations of polystyrene microplastic particles” in the two lagoons, northeast Florida Bay and Barnes Sound. This is the first report of its kind for the area.

While macroplastics represent the more visible side of plastic waste, the study notes, microplastics – which are defined as particles less than 5 millimeters in diameter – may also contribute to environmental stresses. The particular type of plastic found in this sampling, polystyrene, is commonly used in foam cups and food clamshell containers, per a UF/IFAS Extension fact sheet.

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