Microplastics, plastics smaller than 5 millimeters, are an emerging environmental issue that scientists are studying to understand how they impact waters and wildlife world-wide. Often, these plastics come from wastewater treatment plants, which are not presently equipped to filter such small plastics. Microplastics also form when larger plastics degrade. Since 2016, Hudson River Park has partnered with Brooklyn College to research the concentration of microplastics in Sanctuary waters and to support regional efforts to understand this emerging threat.
In 2018, the Estuary Lab found an average concentration of 830,762 microplastics per km² in Hudson River Park’s 400-acre Estuarine Sanctuary. This estimate indicates that since 2017, the concentration of microplastics found in the Estuarine Sanctuary increased by about 6 times.