Thank you to our 2022 Microplastic Analysis volunteers! Upcoming volunteer opportunities will be listed on this page.

Puget Soundkeeper is actively documenting the extent of microplastic pollution in our waterways.  Our work is a part of a growing body of scientific research on the global impact of plastic pollution.  Through our efforts, we aim to increase public education on plastic pollution and its impacts, and advocate for policy changes that protect both our marine health, local ecosystems, and communities. 

Microplastics are a global hazard to our aquatic ecosystems. Because plastic does not biodegrade in the environment, but rather, breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, it is a pollutant that remains in the marine environment for centuries and travels up the food chain. Plastic particles smaller than 5 millimeters are known as microplastics and they have been found in water samples taken from nearly everywhere on earth- including glaciers in the arctic circle and over 93% of bottle water.

What We’re Finding:

From 2019 to 2020, 34 volunteers analyzed 69 water samples over a course of 12 microplastic training sessions. All 69 samples contained microplastics, with an average of 13 microplastics in each sample. Of the 911 microplastics found, 90% of them were filaments – plastic fibers that are commonly found in synthetic clothing; 6.1% of them were plastic fragments – small pieces of larger plastics broken down over time; and 3.3% of the microplastics were plastic pellets – also known as nurdles, used in the manufacturing of larger plastic objects. 

The sites with the most microplastics found were Carkeek Park in Seattle (51 microplastics), Burrows Island Lighthouse on Burrows Island (47), Jarrell Cove State Park on Harstine Island (32), Odlin County Park on Lopez Island (31) and Potlatch State Park near the town of Potlatch (30).  Surprisingly the sample from Log Boom Park in Kenmore was mucky and brown, but only had 4 total microplastics found – proving looks can be deceiving!