Not much research has been done on plastic pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Executive director of Trash Free Maryland Julie Lawson organized a four-day expedition of the bay, bringing together plastic pollution experts, educators, policy advocates, environmentalists and journalists to collect water and sediment samples and study the waterway. 5 Gyres, a nonprofit renowned for research voyages across the oceans, was on board to help discover what’s out there.
For four days, the crew sailed Chesapeake Bay on the Obtuse, captained by Chris Charbonneau, dragging a manta trawl to take samples. The samples were sent to Florida Atlantic University for analysis.
“I predicted that we wouldn’t find much. I was wrong,” said Jeff Corbin, EPA senior adviser for the Chesapeake Bay and Anacostia River.
A significant number of microbeads were in the samples. Microbeads are polyethylene microspheres that are widely used in cosmetics, skin care and personal care industries and have become a substantial environmental concern.