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This Year’s Grand Challenge Emphasize on Global Impact of Microplastics

Prof. Rob Hale of William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science is the lead author of a new Grand Challenges paper named to mark the 100th anniversary of the American Geophysical Union, the world’s largest coalition of Earth and space scientists with over 60,000 members in 137 nations.

This Year's Grand Challenge Emphasize on Global Impact of Microplastics

The paper, “A Global Perspective on Microplastics,” is co-written by VIMS doctoral pupil Meredith Seeley and senior research scientist Dr. Mark LaGuardia, together with Drs. Eddy Zeng and Lei Mai of Jinan University in Guangzhou.

“Microplastics” are microscopic particles synthesized for products like facial scrubs, or produced when physical, chemical, and biological forces break down larger items of plastic particles.

There was widespread concern among scientists and the public that these minute synthetic particles are affecting marine ecosystems.

The team’s paper featured in the January issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans; however, Hale is immediate to stress that microplastics are a concern outside the marine surroundings as well.

Certainly, the broad nature of the microplastic threat is a primary focus of the authors’ manuscript. The researchers observe that the global scope of the issue extends to the social field as well.

A second objective of the article is to gain broader recognition that “plastic” is a catch-all term for a motley range of materials that vary in chemical composition, dimension, texture, and shape—along with pellets, fragments, and fibers.

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