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Sustainability Events

A Risk Assessment of Microplastics and Associated Contaminants in Coastal Environments and Seafood in American Samoa

Beth Polidoro

  • Associate Professor, School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, Arizona State University

Solid waste disposal is a massive concern among Pacific Island nations. With severe limitations in land area, in combination with the lack of reuse or recycling options, many near-shore marine ecosystems across Oceania are severely impacted by locally derived marine debris, including plastics, microplastics and associated chemical contaminants.

To catalyze improved solid waste management and plastic use policies, the potential ecological and public health risks must be clearly identified and communicated. In this case study, we will present results from a community-based, screening-level ecological and public health risk assessment of microplastics and associated contaminants in American Samoa.

The multiple challenges and benefits of conducting field and laboratory-based risk assessments in collaboration with community groups in data poor regions will also be discussed. We will highlight best practices and suggested methods to return results to a variety of local partners for the purposes of improved regulation, educational outreach, and longer-term community conservation efforts.

As seafood is an important source of protein in American Samoa and other Pacific Island nations, this case study can provide a framework for community, scientific or regulatory agencies working in data-poor regions to conduct screening-level risk assessments using in-situ environmental monitoring studies at the local or regional scale.

This presentation is part of a series by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program titled "NOAA Marine Debris Research Webinar Series: Addressing the Ecological Risks of Microplastic.” In this series, the presenters highlight results from four projects funded during a 2017 research grant competition, all of which are wrapping up at the end of the year.

This event is sponsored by NOAA's National Ocean Service Science Seminar Series and NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration. Learn more and register by clicking on each individual webinar title.

Thursday, September 24, 2020
9:00-10:00 a.m. MT (12:00-1:00 p.m. EST)