Huge gaps in research on microplastics in North America

Researchers from Portland State University (PSU), Oregon State University (OSU), and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington (UNC-W) reviewed microplastics studies on commercially-important fishery species published before March 1, 2019, finding that most of the existing literature comes from Europe, Asia, and South America.

“Because seafood — both aquacultured and wild-caught — are so important to the human diet and culture, it’s really important to investigate microplastics specifically on our continent and not relying on data from another part of the world because environmental conditions can be very different,” said Britta Baechler, a Ph.D. student in PSU’s Earth, Environment and Society program.

The research priorities identified for North America include:

“We think of North America as a hotspot for scientific research, yet in terms of understanding microplastics — both contamination in our commercial fishery species and understanding effects, we’re lagging far behind,” said Elise Granek, a professor of environmental science and management in PSU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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