The RMP has conducted initial studies of microplastic pollution in San Francisco Bay. Findings from a 2015 screening-level RMP study of microplastic pollution in our Bay show widespread contamination at levels greater than other U.S. water bodies with high levels of urban development, the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay. Wildlife consume microplastic particles; ingestion can lead to physical harm, and can expose aquatic organisms to pollutants like PCBs that the plastics have absorbed from the surrounding environment.

To guide future efforts, the RMP developed a strategy for monitoring microplastics in the Bay. Engaged RMP stakeholders and international experts established management questions and a multi-year plan. We aim to expand knowledge of Bay microplastic pollution to better inform federal, state, and local policymakers currently seeking solutions to this tough problem.

In 2017, SFEI and The 5 Gyres Institute secured significant external funds to complete the first two years of monitoring and science activities outlined in the RMP strategy. This funding has enabled us to work collaboratively with RMP stakeholders and partners to leverage collection opportunities and to conduct a comprehensive survey of the Bay and adjacent oceanic waters in the National Marine Sanctuaries.

Related News on 2015 RMP Study of Bay Microplastic Pollution:

Dates: 
2015
Associated Staff: 
Programs and Focus Areas: 
Clean Water Program
Bay Regional Monitoring Program
Microplastic
Location Information