TEST Microplastics

Global Microplastics Initiative

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 open full-screen view and see how many pieces of plastic we found in each sample:

Data That Drives Change

After four years of collecting water samples, we are confident that our dataset represents the most diverse and one of the largest datasets 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 inspired businesses to reduce their plastic consumption, is being used by governments towards conservation decision making, and has motivated over 80% of our project volunteers into taking action towards reducing plastic pollution.

Scientific Publications

1. Haab, S and Haab, K. “The Environmental Impacts of Microplastics: An Investigation of Microplastic Pollution in North Country Waterbodies.
2. Barrows, Abigail P.W., Courtney A. Neumann, Michelle L. Berger and Susan D. Shaw. “Grab vs. Neuston Tow Net: A microplastic sampling performance comparison and possible advances in field.”
3. Waller, Catherine L. et al. 2017.”Microplastics in the Antarctic marine system: an emerging area of research.” Science of the Total Environment. 
4. A.P.W.Barrows, A.P.W., Cathey, S.E., Petersen, C.W. 2018.”​Marine environment microfiber contamination: Global patterns and the diversity of microparticle origins” ​Environmental Pollution. 237: 275-284.

Why Care About Microplastics?

Microplastics—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.



What We’re Doing About It

From 2013-2017, Adventure Scientists 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.

​Video: Adventure Scientists in Action

Use Our Microplastics Data

We’re excited to share our microplastics dataset with interested individuals and groups. If you would like to access our data, please inquire here.

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