5 Trillion Pieces of Ocean Trash Found, But Fewer Particles Than Expected
Scientists estimate extent of plastic pollution amid mystery of where it's all going.
A new study on the amount of plastic pollution floating around the world's oceans found a lot of garbage but fewer small particles than researchers expected, raising new questions about how litter is interacting with the environment.
Scientists from the nonprofit advocacy group 5 Gyres published their findings this week in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE. The researchers collected plastic from parts of the ocean with nets and then used computer models to estimate the extent of the garbage problem worldwide.
They estimated that 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic, weighing 269,000 tons, is distributed across the ocean. While that's a lot of trash, researchers found only one-hundredth as many sand-size particles as their models had predicted.
Small plastic pieces have been