Gloved hands holding small colorful plastic pieces

Assessing the Risk of Microplastic Pollution in California

We are leading a scientific working group to develop a risk assessment framework for microplastic pollution in California


In recent years, research on microplastics in the marine environment has increased. While our knowledge on microplastic prevalence and occurrence is rapidly growing, we still lack sound understanding of the various impacts, effects, and potential risk of microplastics on marine species, ecosystems, and even humans.

In 2018, the Ocean Protection Council (OPC) was charged, by state legislation (SB 1263), to develop a Statewide Microplastics Strategy with the goal of increasing the state’s understanding of the scale and risk of microplastics on the marine environment and identifying proposed solutions to address the impacts of microplastics. An important component of the Statewide Microplastics Strategy will be the development of a risk assessment framework for microplastic pollution in California, to be used to evaluate options, including source reduction and product stewardship techniques, barriers, costs, and benefits.

Working Group

In collaboration with the Ocean Protection Council, we are bringing together an interdisciplinary group of scientific experts to address this lack of understanding to develop a risk assessment framework for microplastic pollution in California along with scientific guidance to assist the state in understanding the source, fate and transport, toxicological impacts, marine species impacts, and ecosystem and human health impacts of microplastics.

Timeline: May – December 2020.

Working group members
Eunha Hoh, San Diego State University (co-chair)
Susanne Brander, Oregon State University (co-chair)
Anna-Marie Cook, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Rusty Holleman, University of California, Davis
Chelsea Rochman, University of Toronto
Julie Thayer, Farallon Institute
Kenneth Unice, Cardno Chemrisk

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