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.

Hudson River Park’s River Project has been published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin! We are excited to share our microplastic research with the local and global scientific community, as well as the public, in order to strengthen our collective understanding of microplastic pollution in urban estuaries. To learn more read here.

After pulling samples from the water, two scientists make observations

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.

Scientists writing down their findings from a water sample on a boat

Scientific Publications

We are excited to share that Hudson River Park’s microplastic research has been published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, a peer-reviewed international science publication focused on marine resources and pollution, in December 2020. From 2016 to 2019, HRPK’s science team sampled and analyzed surface microplastics within the Park’s Estuarine Sanctuary, finding approximately 200,000 plastic particles per square kilometer, which is a comparable concentration to other local studies. This is the preprint draft of our comprehensive microplastics study. For the full peer-reviewed research paper containing additional information, please visit here.

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Additional Reports & Data