New funding to study microplastic pollution effect on Delaware Bay blue crabs

Blue crabs

MARK EICHMANN / WHYY – The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is often held up as the poster child for ocean pollution. And while the collection of trash collecting in the Pacific Ocean certainly deserves attention, researchers at the University of Delaware are concerned about a smaller source of pollution, much smaller.

Through its marine debris program, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is giving the university a $325,000 grant to study the impact of microplastics on blue crab populations near the Delaware Bay. Microplastics are defined as pieces of plastic less than five millimeters in length, or smaller than a pencil eraser. According to NOAA, some microplastics are microbeads, fibers or pellets that come from cosmetics or personal care products, for instance. They can also come from larger pieces of plastic that split apart and break down after exposure to the sun …

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