In Areas, San Francisco Bay Microplastics Hit 1 Million Per Square Kilometer

By on October 7, 2015

Microbeads are bits of plastic so small that hundreds of them would be needed to cover a single penny. (Credit: 5Gyres, courtesy of Oregon State University)

Researchers at the San Francisco Estuary Institute have wrapped up a study into San Francisco Bay’s microplastics levels, according to the Mercury News. Their efforts have uncovered shockingly high concentrations of the small plastic bits, reaching about 1 million pieces for every square kilometer in some areas.

Methods for collecting the measurements included dragging tight-meshed nets across the surface waters of the bay in nine different regions. These spanned from Oakland to locations near San Jose.

The highest levels, 1 million per square kilometer, were found in southern San Francisco Bay. Nearer to northern sampling sites, levels reached 310,000 microplastic bits per square kilometer, a concentration triple the levels found in Lake Erie.

Top image: Microbeads are bits of plastic so small that hundreds of them would be needed to cover a single penny. (Courtesy of Oregon State University)

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