It’s hard to tell what the long-term consequences of wide-scale microplastic pollution will be – but it’s important to learn its extent first.
A team of researchers at Macquarie University have just released an interactive map that displays microplastic density along Australian beaches.
The map uses data from the Australian Microplastic Assessment Project, a citizen science project that tracks microplastics on Australian coastlines.
The project, which was established in 2018 and won a Eureka prize last year, relies on beach clean-ups for its data. Volunteers are trained to sieve through sand and collect microplastics, a sample of which are then sent to Macquarie University for identification and examination.
Read more: Ocean microplastics captured using sound
Dr Scott Wilson, a researcher at Macquarie, told The Lighthouse that the project has trained over 800 volunteers so far.
“We don’t know yet what the long-term effects will be from sealife ingesting micro plastics, and how much of these harmful chemicals will find their way into humans,” said Wilson.
“What we do know is that we can’t wait around to find out how bad it is. AUSMAP will help us to track where microplastics are coming from so we can stop them at the source.”
Ellen Phiddian is a science journalist at Cosmos. She has a BSc (Honours) in chemistry and science communication, and an MSc in science communication, both from the Australian National University.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.