Microplastics

Microplastics lab

Microplastics are non-biodegradable particles made from polyethylene, less than 5 millimeters long, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA). They can come from different sources, including larger plastic items breaking down; microbeads in health and beauty products; and plastic threads in clothing. NOAA says when microplastics end up in bodies of water it can cause problems. They can end up in the bodies of fish and other marine life and in our water system, both resulting in human consumption of microplastics.

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Sampling Procedure (if you have access to a lake or river beach)

**If you can’t access a beach safely, you can use the Microplastics Sample Data to make your graph.

Materials needed: string or tape measure to measure area sampled; two pencils; bucket or bag to carry tools; trowel/hand shovel; ziplock bags; sharpie; strainer or colander.

• Step 1: Choose two local beaches or rivers that have sand where you can access the sand safely. Arrive at first sampling location (look along the highest high-water mark or wrack line)

• Step 2: At the sampling location, use the string to measure the distance you wish to sample (approx. 4 feet), using pencils stuck into the sand to hold the string in place.

. • Step 3: Using hands or trowel, scrape off top ~1/2-inch of sand from along the length of your string line.

• Step 4: Pour the sand through the strainer, removing any rocks, pour the contents that remain in the strainer into the first Ziploc bag. Label the bag with the beach name and date using the sharpie.

• Repeat for the other sampling location

Upon returning home, come up with a hypothesis about which area you think will have the most microplastics present (before you count) think about proximity to town and how often the beach is used.

Spread the contents of the first bag on to a cookie sheet or paper towels and count any plastic pieces observed.

Use the microplastics ID card at the end of the lab to help you identify the plastic pieces.

Record in the Excel Data Table and make a column graph of your data

Copy your graph into Microsoft Word

Don’t forget to label your axes and give your graph a graph number, a capitalized title, and a sentence that says which microplastic you found the most of.

**If you can’t access a beach safely, you can use the Microplastics Sample Data to make your graph.

Write a Conclusion:

The hypothesis was _________________________________ (fill in your hypothesis here). This was __________________________ (supported/ not supported by the data you found (plastic pieces that you counted)). _______________ beach had the highest total plastic pieces in the sample _____________(fill in the total plastic pieces for that beach). Does this make sense considering the location of the beach? (is it closer to town or used more often in the summer)

Upload your report to dropbox on Brightspace. For more information on Microplastics check on this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microplastics

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