Our Thirsty Planet Liveblog: Extracting Microplastics in the Puget Sound

By Josh Kinne ’13

Event liveblog featuring Julie Masura, faculty and research scientist, environmental science, Center for Urban Water, University of Washington Tacoma.

10:13 JOSH KINNE: I just observed the fact that Masura carries a reusable water bottle. Exemplifying her point that plastics are not a disposable product.

10:11 JOSH KINNE: ‘Plastics were made to last a long time, and the problem we have from plastics is coming from the fact that we treat plastics as a disposable product.’

10:09 JOSH KINNE: Masura says that people don’t need to completely stop using plastic products, they just need to be consider the affects of improperly disposing plastic products.

9:58 JOSH KINNE: Masura has opened up the floor for questions. The presentation has ended.

9:56 JOSH KINNE: They’re currently working on developing a source hypothesis as to where the microplastic debris is coming from.

9:54 JOSH KINNE: ‘Unfortunately, we’ve seen microplastics in every single one of our samples.’ says Masura.

9:53 JOSH KINNE: Typically their samples include approximately 10% microplastics in comparison to other dry mass found in the samples.

9:52 JOSH KINNE: The presentation is somewhat informal, and audience members are openly asking questions throughout the presentation.

9:50 JOSH KINNE: The sample size and spacial distribution throughout Puget Sound is actually quite large. They have microplastic samples throughout all of the sound, from more than 10 different locations.

Some of the debris compared to the size of a penny.

9:47 JOSH KINNE: ‘If it looks like plastic and it feels like plastic, it’s plastic.’

The net dragged behind the researchers boats to collect microplastic debris.

9:42 JOSH KINNE: Researchers sift through debris captured in the net to collect microplastics.

A fish that ingested plastic...

9:39 JOSH KINNE: The researchers built a homemade troll, that is pulled by the boat and collects microplastic debris.

9:38 JOSH KINNE: Masura’s research assistant is now speaking. She his describing the methods used to collect microplastics at the surface.

9:35 JOSH KINNE: Plastics have low reactivity, and create a false satiation in organisms which can clog the gut and lead to starvation.

9:34 JOSH KINNE: “Why should we care about plastics in the environment?”

9:33 JOSH KINNE: The focus of her research is on microplastics that are about the width of a pen.

9:31 JOSH KINNE: Plastics are separated into separate size classifications ranging from Megaplastics, which are greater than 100mm to Nanoplastics which are smaller than .33mm.

9:28 JOSH KINNE: ‘Plastics are supposed to last for a very long time, so they are built to be sturdy.’

9:26 JOSH KINNE: Masura says that there are many different types of plastics, which different density and Polymer types.

A bird that died from plastic ingestion

9:20 JOSH KINNE: Masura says that the garbage patch is the ‘size of Texas’.

9:19 JOSH KINNE: She is defining plastic debris in the environment.

The crowd

9:16 JOSH KINNE: Introductions are starting. About 25 people in the audience.

9:15 JOSH KINNE: The event is about to begin.

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One response to “Our Thirsty Planet Liveblog: Extracting Microplastics in the Puget Sound”

  1. lutetimes says :

    Thoughtful and timely information. Astute observation about her water bottle.

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