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Florida Sea Grant Extension & Education Program

Florida Sea Grant Extension & Education Program

Florida Microplastic Awareness Project

Are You Plastic Aware?

Each time you wash your face or brush your teeth, you just may be adding microscopic bits of plastic into the aquatic environment. These tiny particles never biodegrade and are accidentally eaten by marine life, threatening their health. Toxins in the environment are attracted to and can easily adhere to their surface.

Thank you for being interested in keeping our oceans clean! Within these pages you will find information about the sources of microplastics, how they end up in our waters, and the threat they pose to marine life.

Please explore the links on the right to get involved in the Florida Microplastic Awareness Project, or find our educational resources and outreach materials.

The Florida Microplastic Awareness Project (FMAP) is a citizen-science project that was funded in 2015 by an outreach and education grant from NOAA's Marine Debris Program. Volunteer citizens are collecting coastal water samples, filtering them and looking for microplastics. Please visit our "Get Involved" page to learn how you can become a volunteer and be part of the solution. The data collected by volunteers are put into a Google Maps database to show the concentration of these particles visually. Older data (which do not differentiate between plastic fibers and natural fibers) can be viewed on this older Google Map site.

Follow our Florida Microplastic Awareness Project page or join our group on Facebook to learn more about news, training sessions and volunteer opportunities!

TAKE THE PLEDGE to reduce your contribution to microplastic pollution

What Are Microplastics?

Plastics may leach toxic chemicals, used in their manufacture, or picked up from the seawater. They might also impede an organism's ability to eat.

Microplastic is generated in several ways. Polyethylene microbeads used in toothpastes, facial scrubs and other personal-care products are one source, because many water-treatment facilities are unable to filter them out. For plastic garbage at sea, wave action and sunlight can weaken large items and break them into ever-smaller fragments. Some microplastic material is dust from construction or industrial processes that’s carried to the ocean by wind or water.

All of these tiny plastic particles wouldn’t be such a problem if they quickly broke down into simpler chemical forms, but plastic molecules are very resilient and could remain intact to threaten the environment for thousands of years.

You can read, download or print a fact sheet about microplastics here.


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Questions? Contact Maia McGuire, UF/IFAS Extension Sea Grant Agent by email or at 904-201-8416.


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Methods used for the Florida Microplastic Awareness Project are based on those developed by Abby Barrows, PI of Adventure Scientists' Worldwide Microplastics Project