In response to findings from a 2015 Regional Monitoring Program (RMP) Special Study on microplastic pollution in the Bay, the Program has begun to develop a strategy for further microplastic monitoring and science. A SFEI-hosted workshop on June 29th brought together key stakeholders and a panel of scientific experts, including Anna-Marie Cook (USEPA), Dr. Sherri Mason (SUNY Fredonia), and Dr. Chelsea Rochman (UC Davis). The Bay Area Clean Water Agencies and other technical experts also participated. Workshop participants benefited from a crash course in the state of the science concerning microplastics, defined as particles of plastic smaller than 5 mm. Consensus developed around the need for robust analytical methods and for additional monitoring in Bay matrices. A draft strategy will be available for review in the fall of 2016. Meanwhile, the results of the 2015 study are now available as a journal article in Marine Pollution Bulletin.
For more Microplastic Pollution Information go to: http://www.sfei.org/projects/microplastic-pollution
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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.