This is the first of a three-part series that examines our growing understanding of the scope and impacts of microplastics pollution.
During a research cruise to the Sargasso Sea in fall 1971 marine biologist Ed Carpenter first noticed peculiar, white specks floating amidst the mats of brown sargassum seaweed. After some investigating he discovered they were tiny bits of plastic. He was stunned. If thousands of the broken down particles were showing up in in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, 550 miles from any mainland, he says, “I figured it’s all over the place.”
Carpenter, now at San Francisco State University, published his obser
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