Date of Graduation

Spring 5-21-2022

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)


College of Arts and Sciences


Environmental Management

First Advisor

Allison Luengen


The numerous scientific methodologies and procedures used in marine research on microplastic pollution restrict our present understanding of this severe environmental issue threatening marine organisms and human health. The abundance and bioaccumulation of microplastic in the food web is causing adverse implications for marine wildlife and potentially human health via seafood consumption. The absence of standardized methods for quantifying and characterizing microplastics is a major limiting factor in comparing current research. To evaluate the issue of monitoring microplastics in the marine environment, I conducted a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis on mussels as a biomonitoring tool. Because mussels are resilient, abundant, accessible worldwide, and commonly used as bioindicators in the marine environment, they retain higher microplastic particles and are significant biomarkers for microplastic particles. Furthermore, I conducted a comparative analysis of five different trash capture systems for fighting microplastic pollution. Among the five trash capturing methods, end of pipe nets and bioretention rain gardens were cost-effective and efficient in the long run. I suggested the implementation of a Total Maximum Daily Loads for trash (TMDLs) and the trash capture system to aid in a framework for achieving the zero waste goals by 2030 in California. Recommendations for microplastic management include a two-track strategy: (1) implementing preventative measures, clean-up pathways, and regulatory initiatives; (2) advancing scientific research through risk assessments and thresholds to improve existing solutions by adopting the standardized protocol.