Micro- and nanoplastics are ubiquitous, traveling on clothes, food, and with rains, winds and waves into washing machines, sinks, wastewater, farmlands, down rivers and streams, along sandy beaches and into seabeds. In each environment, the variety of micro- and nanoplastics materials behave differently. Some observable behaviors from research include: absorption of other pollutants including heavy metals; attaching to and collecting on animals and plants; traveling on land, sea and in cells, individuals and populations; floating and accumulating on surfaces; and, transforming and degrading with different conditions and light exposure. URI researchers across the state and around the world, are observing, collecting and analyzing these behaviors to understand the impact and contribute to global strategies to inform decisions about plastics.

Photo by Jason Jaacks

URI Initiative Plastics: Land to Sea SPRING | 2021 Page 31

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