Plastic pollution is ubiquitous throughout the marine environment, yet estimates of the global abundance and weight of floating plastics have lacked data, particularly from the Southern Hemisphere and remote regions. Advertisement. The 5 Gyres Institute helped expose the presence of microbeads in some of the cosmetic products we use every day, influence change amongst corporations and legislators. The San Francisco Estuary Institute teamed up with the 5 Gyres Institute to complete a three-year study in what they claim is the first comprehensive regional study of microplastic pollution. The team will be lead by 5 Gyres Co-Founder and Research Director Marcus Eriksen and will include representatives from regional NGOs who are working on community-based, zero-waste solutions that prevent the flow of plastics to local waters. (Source: 5 Gyres) Another key source of microplastics is normal-sized plastics that get ground up and broken down in nature. Microbeads are currently banned, but if you have these old products, you should be able to send them back to the manufacturer or to 5 Gyres, a research group committed to reducing microplastics. This story originally appeared on Massive , an editorial partner site that publishes science stories by scientists. The ocean's currents carry pollutants called microplastics like a smog, threatening marine life and our food supply. This means that the visible plastic we can see in places like the massive Pacific Garbage Patch could, with time, end up increasing the amount of microplastics throughout the entire ocean. High-density microplastics, including polyvinylchloride, polyester and polyamide, are likely found in their largest quantities in the benthos. Microplastics come from a variety of sources, including from larger plastic debris that degrades into smaller and smaller pieces. ... Photo provided by 5 Gyres) ... Microplastics in the ocean … This is the first of a three-part series that examines our growing understanding of the scope and impacts of microplastics pollution. Along both routes we will monitor microplastics and explore solutions to the problem of plastic pollution. “Our TrawlShare program was designed to grow our global microplastics dataset that is now focusing on areas closer to land,” said Carolynn Box, 5 Gyres Science Programs Director. Title Trawling Through the 5 Gyres: A MicroplasticResearch Study Focus : Students will help collect data about the types of microplastics in the 5 main gyres of the oceans, and learn how our habits of using single-use plastics can affect this pollution. The fate of fouled microplastics in gyres has now become a key research area for the 5 Gyres Project, in association with the Algalita Marine Research Foundation (AMRF) (Eriksen and Cummins, 2010). Credit: 5 Gyres. In addition, microbeads, a type of microplastic, are very tiny pieces of manufactured polyethylene plastic that are added as exfoliants to health and beauty products, such as some cleansers and toothpastes.