An analysis of the distribution of microplastics along the South Shore of Long Island, NY

(1) Seaford High School, Seaford, New York

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Plastic pollution has exponentially increased in recent years, becoming an international concern. Microplastics, or plastic particles measuring less than 5 mm in length, have consequently become ubiquitous and harmful in the marine environment, ultimately putting the biosphere at risk. Scientists recognize the importance of understanding the distribution of microplastics in the environment to develop policy and tools to combat this issue and promote sustainability. In this experiment, we sought to identify the concentrations of microplastic pollution in the sand of various locations along the coastline of the South Shore of Long Island, New York. This study involved an initial collection of sand followed by microplastic extraction with sodium chloride, filtration, and quantification via microscopy. We hypothesized that there would be a higher concentration of microplastics in the sand of the beaches that are closer in proximity to New York City whereas the locations farthest from the city would have lower concentrations of the contaminants. Based on the resulting p-value of 0.75, we concluded that there were no statistically significant differences between the numbers of microplastics collected from each sampling location. However, since microplastics were retrieved from each of these four sampling locations, there is evidence that microplastics are present along the South Shore, which is important to further research.

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environment pollution south shore particles microplastics beaches