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Water-Related News

Florida Sea Grant awarded grant to raise awareness about microplastics in Florida waters

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Each time you wash your face or brush your teeth, you just may be adding microscopic bits of plastic into the aquatic environment. These tiny particles never biodegrade and are accidentally eaten by marine life, threatening their health. Toxins in the environment are attracted to and can easily adhere to their surface.

These tiny bits of plastic, smaller than the width of a pencil eraser, are causing a big problem and Maia McGuire, Florida Sea Grant agent with UF/IFAS Extension in St. Johns and Flagler counties, is proposing a solution.

McGuire was recently awarded a NOAA’s Marine Debris program grant to raise awareness about microplastics in the ocean by creating a statewide citizen science initiative.

As part of her awareness campaign, titled the Florida Microplastic Awareness Project, she will be training Floridians to take water samples to detect the amount of microplastics in coastal waters across the state. The data collected by volunteers will then be put into Google Maps to show the concentration of these particles visually.

The campaign will teach people ways to reduce their personal contribution to microplastic pollution in hopes of reducing the net amount of plastic released into the environment, McGuire said. According to a study published in Science magazine, in 2010 enough plastic entered the ocean globally to fill five grocery bags for every foot of shoreline of the 192 countries studied.

McGuire says one way to reduce your plastic footprint is by selecting and using personal care products that do not contain polyethylene, a type of microbead found in some toothpastes, deodorants, makeup, body washes and facial scrubs.

Continued on Florida Sea Grant's website »

Watch this video to learn more about plastics in our waterways: