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Encore: Study Suggests Americans are Consuming Lots of Microplastics

Researchers pull a seine through waters in Sidney, British Columbia.
Researchers pull a seine through waters in Sidney, British Columbia.

We’ve been hearing more and more stories lately about the various places plastics are showing up in our environment. Stories of dead dolphins washing ashore on local beaches with pounds of plastics in their stomachs; scientists breaking deep sea diving records, only to find a plastic bag and food wrappers; researchers have even found microplastics in a remote area of the Pyrenees mountains.

An NPR story over the weekend says researchers at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute have found microplastics throughout the water column. And now, new research out of the University of Victoria in British Columbia suggests that annual microplastics consumption here in the U.S. ranges from 39,000 to 52,000 particles depending on age and sex. These estimates increase to 74,000 and 121,000 when inhalation is considered. And, people who mostly drink bottled water may be ingesting an additional 90,000 microplastic particles annually, compared to 4,000 for those who consume only tap water.

We're listening back to a conversation we had about startling numbers with the study’s lead author, Kieran Cox, a marine biology Ph.D. Candidate​ and Hakai Scholar at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

Copyright 2019 WGCU

Julie Glenn is the host of Gulf Coast Live. She has been working in southwest Florida as a freelance writer since 2007, most recently as a regular columnist for the Naples Daily News. She began her broadcasting career in 1993 as a reporter/anchor/producer for a local CBS affiliate in Quincy, Illinois. After also working for the NBC affiliate, she decided to move to Parma, Italy where she earned her Master’s degree in communication from the University of Gastronomic Sciences. Her undergraduate degree in Mass Communication is from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.
Mike Kiniry is producer of Gulf Coast Live, and co-creator and host of the WGCU podcast Three Song Stories: Biography Through Music. He first joined the WGCU team in the summer of 2003 as an intern while studying Communication at Florida Gulf Coast University.