Citizen Science Project to Evaluate Microplastic Pollution in Victoria, BC Waters

FEBRUARY 17, 2021, Victoria, British Columbia - In partnership with Environment Climate Change Canada, Ocean Diagnostics is piloting a microplastics citizen science project in the Victoria and Saanich communities from April to September 2021. The purpose of the project is to determine whether a relationship can be established between sewage outfalls and storm water discharge points and coastal microplastic pollution.

“Citizen participation is important because the community can help to collect greater amounts of scientific data than would have been possible using traditional academic institutions,” says Kaitlyn Pinkett, analytical scientist and citizen science pilot project manager at Ocean Diagnostics.​ “Involvement also provides a way for community members to play an active role in understanding and protecting the health of our local waters from microplastics pollution.”

Over the course of six months, local volunteers of immediate household groups will gather microplastics samples from a designated local beach using newly developed citizen science microplastics technologies and protocols. Volunteers will sample surface water and beaches along shorelines surrounding stormwater and wastewater discharge sites. The samples will then be sent to the Ocean Diagnostics’ lab for analysis, and the findings will be used in a national campaign to educate and engage Canadians on the issue of microplastics.

Plastic never disintegrates. Instead, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces known as microplastics. These microplastics (5mm or smaller) end up in our oceans, drinking water, food and air, and they threaten ecosystems, food chains, economies and even human health. Currently, microplastics and plastics are not regulated due to a lack of sufficient scientific data on their long-term effects.

Scientists struggle to collect and analyze sufficient data because, until now, the equipment was outdated, not-fit-for-purpose and archaic. With Ocean Diagnostics’ innovative microplastics technologies and services, both researchers and citizens can contribute to and advance scientific data about microplastics and ultimately influence informed decision making.

"The project will engage citizens and have them involved in an open scientific study. Through simultaneous learning and collaboration everyone will contribute to a greater perspective and awareness on the issue of microplastics," Pinkett continues.
"Citizen science highlights the importance of public involvement and open science in driving scientific progress and making important insights to drive change."

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Ocean Diagnostics (ODI) is an environmental impact company that develops technologies and services to enable researchers and citizens to diagnose and protect the health of our oceans from microplastics pollution. ​Access to better plastic pollution data can influence informed decision making on the protection and management of our oceans from microplastics pollution.​