Sunlight was once thought to only fragment plastics in the marine environment into smaller particles that chemically resemble the original material and persist forever. However, scientists more recently have learned that sunlight also chemically transforms plastic into a suite of polymer-, dissolved-, and gas-phased products. Now, a new study finds that this chemical reaction can produce tens of thousands of water-soluble compounds, or formulas.Read More
Jordan Pitt, MIT-WHOI Joint Program Sponsored by: Biology Department This will be held virtually. Zoom link: https://whoi-edu.zoom.us/j/94122732384?pwd=ZEhqZXZyeDdhMXVVR3d1dmFkYmZIQT09Read More
On May 20, 2021, the cargo ship M/V X-Press Pearl caught fire off the coast of Sri Lanka. The container ship was carrying 78 metric tons of a material known as plastic nurdles. What happens now?Read More
Javier Lloret, MBL Co-sponsored by: Waquoit Bay Reserve, Friends of the Waquoit Bay Reserve, MA Department of Conservation & Recreation,…Read More
The health of the world’s ocean is in serious decline—and human health is suffering as a result. A comprehensive report from the Monaco Commission and co-authored by several WHOI researchers investigates the impacts of ocean pollution and recommends actions to safeguard human health.Read More
With the backing of a handful of family foundations, WHOI is launching a Marine Microplastics Innovation Accelerator to help answer some of the most pressing—and foundational—questions about marine microplastics and their impactsRead More
MPC Research Specialist, Hauke Kite-Powell, has recently been appointed to a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee to study U.S. contributions to global ocean plastic waste.
Evidence of pellet pollution has been piling up for decades. R. Jude Wilber of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution returned to the area and found that pellet concentrations had nearly doubled.
The study of marine microplastics is not new. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has been conducting research and publishing on this subject since the 1970s. Other organizations have been active as well.
As the first state in the country to ban foam food containers, Maryland will be a “very good case study,” said Chris Reddy, a scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.
An ocean technology company installed a particle sensor Tuesday in the Cape Cod Canal to monitor plankton and potential microplastics.
It can be hard to predict the average lifespan of plastics in the ocean when so many different types exist. WHOI chemists Chris Reddy and Collin Ward are working to simplify these predictionsRead More
“We have an opportunity now, where there is public awareness,” said Mark Hahn, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “They (plastics) don’t belong there (in the ocean).”
“Studying microplastics is hard because [they are] not a single contaminant like lead or a uniform contaminant like PCBs [polychlorinated biphenyls],” said NIEHS grantee Mark Hahn, Ph.D., a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “It is a diverse and complex mixture of materials.”
The threat to human health is complex and poorly understood. “There are a lot more questions than answers at this point,” says Mark Hahn, a toxicologist at WHOI who studies microplastics.
Michelle DiBenedetto, WHOI Sponsored by: Physical Oceanography DepartmentRead More
October 15, 2019 – Watch this recorded public event entitled Microplastics in the Ocean: Emergency of Exaggeration? with a keynote presentation by Dr. Kara Lavender Law on the science of ocean plastic pollution and laying the foundation for solutions.
Dr. Law is a faculty member at Sea Education Association, where she studies the distribution of plastic marine debris driven by ocean physics and the degradation and ultimate fate of plastics in the ocean.
Keynote presentation is followed by a panel discussion on the international perspectives on marine microplastics research moderated by Dr. Heather Goldstone, host of Living Lab, WCAI, Cape & Islands NPR. Panelists include:
Dr. Chelsea Rochman
University of Toronto, Canada
Dr. Hauke Kite-Powell
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, U.S.A.
Dr. Gunnar Gerdts
Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany
Dr. Hideshige Takada
Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan
Dr. Collin Ward
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, U.S.A.
Sponsored by the Elisabeth W. and Henry A. Morss, Jr., Colloquia Endowed Fund
Learn more about marine microplastics here:
A major component of ocean pollution is less devastating and more manageable than usually portrayed.
Researchers from MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution say that sunlight can break down polystyrene within a few decades.
Polystyrene, a common ocean pollutant, decomposes in sunlight much faster than thought, a new study finds.
The general consensus of governmental agencies is that it takes polystyrene thousands of years to fully break down. But a new study shows that it may instead degrade in decades or centuries when exposed to sunlight.Read More
Kara Lavender Law, Sea Education Association Sponsored by: Elisabeth W. and Henry A., Morss, Jr., Colloquia Endowed FundRead More
Where are the sources of these microplastics? Well, as a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution video explains, some of the microplastics may be coming from larger plastic objects such as bottles and other households goods being ground up by the elements.