This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. McEachern recommended what she called "empowering solutions" for individuals who are looking for some way to help. Vacuum filtration system used to filter collection samples. The threads, which are carried away in waste water, are too small to be caught by filters at the wastewater treatment plant. Carrying your own bottle cuts waste and is much cheaper. TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A new study from researchers at the University of South Florida and Eckerd College is bringing to light what pollutants are filling up Tampa Bay waters. And because the chemicals on microplastics can mimic hormones, "they can cause reproduction difficulties. Reduce Plastic Pollution. Scientists are still studying the effects of microplastics on human health, but … That extrapolates to 4 billion pieces for the entire bay. The microplastics cascade into the bay from stormwater and, in the case of fabrics, from the washing machines that feed into municipal sewer treatment plants that eventually dump into the bay. Teaming up with McEachern, who was interested in focusing her graduate research on this issue, USFSP Associate Professor of Chemistry Henry Alegria and the Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County, they set about counting microplastics in the region at 24 stations over a 14-month period. Use escape to clear. Maya Burke of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program looks for plastic pollution on Ben T. Davis beach in Tampa, FL. Researchers found the largest concentrations of microplastics in water occurred after intense and long rainfall events, while in sediments the greatest amount of microplastics were located close to industrial sources. “Once they’re there, they are there to stay,” said McEachern. Despite their miniscule size, these plastic particles can wreak havoc on the marine environment as fish, bivalves and other marine creatures confuse them for food. "It's the high density. Mostly fibrous, thread-like plastics appeared in the water samples, while denser plastic particles were found mostly in the sediments. That amounts to 3 trillion pieces in the bay's surface sediments, McEachern said. Here the plankton net and flowmeter are being prepared to calculate volume of water that passes through net. But a new study says the bay, Florida’s largest estuary, is awash in tiny bits of plastic. "And really think about your own use when you’re using them, because the minutes- or even seconds- that you’re using them have consequences for ecosystems that last a lifetime.”, Published October 23, 2019 at 8:30 AM EDT, Threads of microplastic, like the ones shown under a microscope here, are often mistaken by marine life for plankton. Contact the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of the University of South Florida. A 14-month study of Tampa Bay has found that the large body of water on Florida's Gulf Coast contains 4 billion particles of microplastics. According to the study, microplastics – which are 1/8 of an inch at their largest – are small pieces of degraded man-made materials such as threads of fabric, plastic bags or bottles. You would turn off the tap,” said McEachern. The findings of billions of particles of microplastics in Tampa Bay waters could bring even greater calls for action and influence future decisions in the region and beyond. If you really need one, get a reusable straw and bring your own. A new citizen science initiative, called the Nurdle Patrol, is tracking a danger to marine life that is washing ashore by the millions across the Gulf of Mexico. The bits of plastic are of a size similar to plankton. (Sept. 9, 2019) – A new study from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and Eckerd College estimates the waters of Tampa Bay contain four billion particles of microplastics, raising new questions about the impact of pollution on marine life in this vital ecosystem. According to the Ocean Conservancy, six of the top 10 contributors to marine debris are single-use, or disposable, plastic products. Plastic waste, like the water bottles and grocery bags that wind up in the bay, can take over 450 years to fully decompose. "Although it is tempting to clean up the mess, it is not feasible to remove these particles from the water column or separate them out from sediments," said Hastings, who is a courtesy professor at USF College of Marine Science and a recently retired professor of marine science and chemistry at Eckerd College. So far, she said, there have been no studies on the impact on humans. A new study from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and Eckerd College estimates the waters of Tampa Bay contain four billion particles of microplastics, raising new questions about the impact of pollution on marine life in this vital ecosystem. “It also provides a vital baseline on total numbers and distribution. David Hastings served as the principal investigator of the study. Oysters, clams and mussels in the bay filter seawater to consume tiny bits of food, and thus wind up collecting the microplastics too, which then begin being passed through the food chain. Samples were filtered through a wire mesh and nitrate filter. McEachern wanted to quantify how widespread the pollution problem was, something that has never been done before in Tampa Bay. In Florida, serious water quality issues have been occurring for quite some time. You're now taking away the pleasantries of how it looks and how we live. Once in the bay, microplastics are ingested by filter-feeders, like mussels and oysters, and by fish and birds, McEachern said. For more than a decade, Hastings led annual research cruises in Tampa Bay with Eckerd College students to collect water samples and plankton. Maya Burke of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program looks for plastic pollution on Ben T. Davis beach in Tampa, FL. Democratic Republic of the Congo | Français, State of Vatican City (Holy See) | Italiano. TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A new study from researchers at the University of South Florida and Eckerd College is bringing to light what pollutants are filling … Persistent organic pollutants, including toxic pesticides, and metals can stick to their surfaces, making ingestion potentially that much more damaging. Delaney Brown is a radio news intern for the fall of 2019. remove microplastics from marine environments, Florida Superintendents Ask Tallahassee To Offer Remote Option In Spring, Florida Coronavirus Cases, Hospitalizations Trend Upward As Deaths Decrease, Gusty Winds And Heavy Rain From Eta Likely Into Early Next Week, FACT CHECK: Trump Falsely Claims Widespread Fraud In Latest Election Speech, Florida Sea Turtles Face A New Threat From Microplastics: Hotter Sand, Plastic Pollution In Gulf Of Mexico Is Target Of 'Nurdle Patrol', Report Says Quality Of Tampa Bay Continues To Rebound. According to the Ocean Conservancy, six of the top 10 contributors to marine debris are single-use, or disposable, plastic products. But when we put the samples underneath the microscope, we were astonished to find many brightly colored pieces of microplastic. The study found an average of four pieces of microplastic per gallon of water at all sites, and more than 600 pieces of microplastic per pound of dry sediment around the bay. © 1998 - 2020 Nexstar Inc. | All Rights Reserved. Recently bans on plastic bags and single-use plastics have been enacted by some local governments in Tampa Bay to reduce marine pollution and protect Florida’s largest open-water estuary. Using funding from the Tampa Bay Estuary Program and boats provided by the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission, the team of researchers tracked 24 stations across the bay - including both industrial areas and more pristine mangrove habitats - over a 14 month period. Extrapolating those findings to the entire Tampa Bay estuary, the researchers estimated there are approximately four billion particles in the water and more than 3 trillion pieces in surface sediments. According to police, Juan Collins, 36, worked at St. Anthony's Hospital and AFC Urgent Care both in St. Petersburg, where he gained access to patients' personal belongings. Thanks to a three-year grant, researchers at Eckerd College will continue to collect water samples and update the findings. If the material quickly melted or disfigured, the sample was classified as a microplastic. Researchers hope the findings will provide necessary data to inform the debate around policies to reduce plastic in the marine environment. remain in the bay, the gulf and ocean for more than a lifetime, published in the November edition of the Marine Pollution Bulletin. Since particles are similar size as plankton, filter feeders such as oysters, clams, many fish and some birds ingest microplastics, allowing them to enter the food chain. They are eventually released into the bay with treated water. This is important for management plans moving forward to show whether future actions and policies are effective at reducing these particles in our environment.". At a Glance Each gallon of water in Tampa Bay has, on average, four particles of microplastic. Now scientists will determine the impact on the animals that live in Florida’s largest estuary. Known as “food service ware,” such single-use plastic utensils and containers pose a threat to marine environments because they do not fully break down or decompose. “But emerging research indicates a wide range of impacts on marine ecosystems from the large accumulation of microplastics.”. Plastic straws are consistently one of the most littered plastic items. She says the biggest way that people can help stop the spread of microplastics is by making the switch from single-use plastics to reusable options. The study is published in the November edition of the Marine Pollution Bulletin. Hastings praised McEachern’s study for taking a look at the pollution problem in three dimensions rather than just skimming the bay’s surface as studies in some other places have done. A water sample collected by scientists from the surface in the middle of bay after a storm event in January, 2018.
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