Microplastics Study

Microplastics Study Measures Impact On Waterways

Measuring microplastics in North Carolina’s waterways is no small job. In collaboration with Waterkeepers Carolina, Coastal Carolina Riverwatch has launched a two-year study to collect surface water and sediment samples along the New River. This will help us to better understand the volume of microplastics and macroplastic pollution in North Carolina’s streams, rivers, lakes, and bays.

The study “Improving Human and Ecosystem Health through Microplastic Reduction” launched in February as a collaborative project across 10 nonprofit environmental organizations. To get baselines, 15 Riverkeepers collected two surface water samples and sediment samples. This is the first of bi-monthly samples that will be collected over two years.

Microplastics are small plastic pieces less than five millimeters long which can be harmful to waterways and aquatic life. As plastics break down over time into microplastics, they are an environmental and public health issue. Microplastics are so small that they are not picked up by water filtration and are often eaten by fish, birds, and other aquatic animals, negatively impacting their health. 

The sad reality is plastic is everywhere. Plastic particles and pollution flow from our cities to our rivers and our lakes to our oceans. Every waterway in North Carolina is impacted by plastic pollution. This study will measure how big of a problem microplastics pose. 

Project partners UNC-Wilmington, Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, and Plastic Ocean Project will collaborate to get the best scientific data for this project. 

In the News:

Riverkeepers are growing more concerned over microplastics in waterways.

Groups are setting traps to reduce plastics in NC waters

For more information contact Rebecca Drohan, White Oak Waterkeeper