Hello Microplastics Adventurers,
Thank you for collecting water samples with the Adventure Scientists’ Worldwide Microplastics Initiative. Your efforts are helping us understand the distribution and concentration of microplastics in the world’s waters, while also building the planet's largest microplastics dataset. Principal Investigator Abby Barrows has processed your microplastics samples, and we’re excited to share the results of your work!
First, let us briefly explain the process your samples go through in the lab. Once Abby receives your sample, she vacuum pumps each sample over a filter. After the filter has dried, Abby uses a microscope at 45x magnification to look for pieces of microplastic that are less than 5 millimeters. Moving along the grid lines, the filter is systematically counted, with each plastic piece categorized based on shape (round, microfiber, other) and color (blue, red, black, transparent/white, other). The final count for the sample is divided by the sample volume. This calculation helps to standardize the results, as incoming water samples are often not exactly one liter of water.
To date, 1731 of 2294 samples analyzed (75%) contained microplastics. 87% of marine samples contained plastic, while 49% of freshwater samples contained plastic. 24,569 pieces of microplastic have been counted. On average, we are finding 9 plastic pieces per liter of water. You can check out the number of pieces per liter in each individual sample on the map on our microplastics page.
Note: In the results listed here, we report the total microplastic pieces found in all of your samples. However, for many of our calculations and for the online map, we report the total pieces per liter. As such, your microplastic total on the map may appear different from your total below.
Also, please let us know if your sample isn’t located in the correct place on the map, so that we can fix it for you.
Kathleen Daley and Gary Greenwood
Chesapeake Bay Area, Virginia
Kathleen and Gary collected three samples during their kayak outings in Chesapeake Bay, which contained one blue microfiber. Kathleen is a part-time graduate student at Virginia Tech and part-time environmental analyst in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Gary is the director of a computer software company. You can learn more about Kathleen’s work to raise awareness about issues the Bay faces at her blog, Beyond the Bay.