We’ve amassed one of the largest and most diverse global microplastic pollution datasets to date. This data is being used by businesses, governments, and individuals to limit plastic waste.
Click on a map location to see how many pieces of plastic we found in each sample:
After four years of collecting water samples, we are confident that our dataset represents the most diverse and, likely, the largest dataset exposing the extent of microplastic pollution around the globe. With this in hand, we have transitioned to data analysis as we seek a deeper understanding of microplastic pollution, and importantly, how our work can contribute to positive change. This data has already been used in a study that led the Government of Palau to create a Marine Protected Area and has inspired businesses to reduce their plastic consumption.
Microplastics—or plastic particles smaller than five millimeters in size—pose a significant environmental risk when they enter our waterways.
Pollutants including pesticides and manufacturing chemicals can adhere to microplastic particles and bioaccumulate in aquatic life. Microplastics have been shown to affect feeding behavior and predator avoidance, and can interact with other pollutants to affect cell function in fish. They’re also able to move from the digestive tract of organisms into the bloodstream.
Microplastics have several sources. They're laundered from nylon clothing, they wash down the drain with many cosmetics and toothpastes, and they weather from debris like bottles and bags.
Since 2013, Adventure Scientists has mobilized thousands of trained volunteers to help identify the extent of microplastic pollution in marine and freshwater systems around the world. Preliminary results have revealed microplastics in the vast majority of marine samples we've collected, from places including Maine, Alaska, Argentina, Thailand and Antarctica. Compared to marine samples, our freshwater samples reveal lower microplastic presence and concentration: nearly half of our freshwater samples contain microplastics.
We are no longer accepting volunteers for this project. Please stay tuned for the results of our study.