Gallatin Microplastics Initiative

The Gallatin River carries the mountains to the sea. It carries our communities and our livelihoods. It carries our stories and dreams. And this river also carries something more ominous in its waters: Our garbage.

In a pilot survey of five sites along the Gallatin River, microplastic particles were found in every sample, some in startlingly high numbers. With this knowledge, we launched the Gallatin Microplastics Initiative to study the abundance and types of microplastics in the Gallatin Watershed. This is an expansion of the Worldwide Microplastics Project.

​In each year of the Gallatin Microplastics Initiative, 60+ volunteers will return four times to their assigned sites on the main Gallatin and its tributaries, gathering an in-depth picture of plastic pollution from 70 sites in the watershed. This information will help us understand the extent of the problem and how to resolve it.

The website


China : State research project dedicated to marine microplastics

A national key research project on microplastics was recently launched in Shanghai to assess their impact on the ecological environment, especially in the ocean.

Led by East China Normal University, the study will be conducted by several college laboratories and research institutions in a time span from 2016 to late 2020 and aims to detect marine microplastics, establish research standards and monitoring procedures and develop ways to control their risks on the ecosystem.

Microplastics, which are small particles of plastic debris found in cosmetics and cleaning products like toothpastes, are too small to be captured through existing wastewater treatment processes and are washed straight into the oceans. (…) (, February 21, 2017)

The news

POSEIDOMM Photochemistry at the Ocean’s Surface: Effects and Interactions of Dissolved Organic Matter with Microplastics

POSEIDOMM will investigate the influence of microplastics on the photochemical and biological processes in the SML. We will verify the effect of microplastic pollutants on the formation of a surface-active biofilm, the implications for microbial cycles and for the photochemical generation of reactive chemical species and labile organic compounds. The goals of POSEIDOMM are to provide a chemical and biological characterization of the microplastic-biofilm aggregates in the SML, to quantify the photochemical cycling of such aggregates and to identify the implications of this cycling on gas exchange and on the microbial carbon cycle. (…)

H2020 project / From 2016-05-01 to 2018-04-30, ongoing project. Coordinator : UNIVERSITA’ DEGLI STUDI DI SIENA, Italy.

European Commission

CLEANSEA (Towards a Clean, Litter-Free European Marine Environment through Scientific Evidence, Innovative Tools and Good Governance)

Europe’s marine natural resources encompass a vast natural capital that supports economies, societies and individual well-being. Marine litter is widely recognized as a threat to marine ecosystems and a major societal challenge to manage. Under the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) (Directive 2008/56/EC), marine litter is one of the eleven descriptors for determining Good Environmental Status, GES (Decision 2010/477/EU). The EU aims to achieve GES through the adoption of an ecosystem-based and integrated approach to managing all human activities which impact the marine environment. There is an urgent need for an improved knowledge base for the management of marine litter and the CleanSea project was created to address this need. (…) (Final report summary, 11/10/2016)

European Commission

Citizen scientists to reveal WA beach pollution hot-spots

A Citizen Science project being launched by the Conservation Council of Western Australia is set to reveal marine plastic pollution hotspots by engaging volunteers in studying the distribution of minute plastic particles around the Southwest coastline, from Geraldton to Esperance.

In a first for WA, the project will involve volunteer ‘citizen scientists’ around the southwest who will take hundreds of samples of beach sand. The samples will be analysed by UWA researcher Dr Harriet Paterson to reveal the true extent of plastic contamination in the marine environment.

The sampling will identify tiny fragments of plastic called micro-plastics which affect marine life on a global scale. The particles look like food to marine life, but when ingested can kill animals and deliver toxic chemicals to the animals tissue. (…) (08/2016)

The project

Nacc news