Questions for “Polluting microplastics harm both animals and ecosystems”

a photo of hands sifting through tiny bits of plastic found on a beach

Plastic bits picked up from a beach. This pollution appears to threaten a broad swath of aquatic life. But new work also shows this debris can provoke harmful changes in soil ecosystems.

doble-d/iStock/Getty images Plus

To accompany “Polluting microplastics harm both animals and ecosystems


Before Reading:

1. What are microplastics? Where do they come from?

2. What type of impacts do microplastics have on the environment?

During Reading:

1.  How do microplastics form?

2.  How can microplastics impact marine life?

3.  What are some of the additives found in microplastics?

4.  How do microplastics impact the energy-rich stomach oil of fulmars?   

5.  What happens to the surface area of plastic once it begins to break down? Why is that important in terms of environmental effects?

6.  What happens when microplastics enter the food chain?

7.  What are some sources of microplastic?

8.  Besides the ocean, where else has microplastic pollution become a problem?

9.  Why are nanoplastics such a concern to scientists?

10. What does Duke University’s Imari Walker Karega say about the relationship between microplastics and food crops?

After Reading:

1.  Why is it important to slow the spread of plastic in the environment? Describe what changes can you make every day, around the house and in school, to reduce the amount of plastic.

2.  Do you think governments and businesses should play more of a role in reducing microplastic pollution? If yes, what might they do? If no, explain your reasoning.