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.
9:47 JOSH KINNE: ‘If it looks like plastic and it feels like plastic, it’s plastic.’
9:42 JOSH KINNE: Researchers sift through debris captured in the net to collect microplastics.
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.
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.
9:16 JOSH KINNE: Introductions are starting. About 25 people in the audience.
9:15 JOSH KINNE: The event is about to begin.