We live in a plastic-coated world. Sure, there are the obvious bits and pieces– the straws, the plastic bags, a seemingly perpetual stream of product packaging– however a great deal of the plastic in our lives is too little to discover. Microplastics, or plastics that are smaller sized than five millimeters, are almost all over. They’re in the air you breathe, the tea you drink, and even the food you consume.
Some microplastics are easily cleaned off clothes or sent down the drain as people rinse away cosmetic products Others are pieces of larger plastic items that have been broken down by wind, waves, or sunlight. No matter where they come from, lots of microplastics end up getting washed out to sea where they can be demolished by organisms– including a few of the organisms we people enjoy to eat, like shrimp, oysters, and mussels.
Here at The Brink, we wished to see if we might find some of these small particles for ourselves, so we grabbed some fresh shrimp and headed to a lab at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory where Debra Magadini assisted us hunt for microplastics. The procedure included shrimp guts, ovens, test tubes, and some major color. Take an appearance at the video above and see what we discovered.