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A nationwide assessment of plastic pollution in the Danish realm using citizen science

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  • Kristian Syberg, Roskilde University
  • ,
  • Annemette Palmqvist, Roskilde University
  • ,
  • Farhan R. Khan, Roskilde University
  • ,
  • Jakob Strand
  • Jes Vollertsen, Aalborg University
  • ,
  • Lauge Peter Westergaard Clausen, Technical University of Denmark
  • ,
  • Louise Feld
  • Nanna B. Hartmann, Technical University of Denmark
  • ,
  • Nikoline Oturai, Roskilde University
  • ,
  • Søren Møller, Roskilde University
  • ,
  • Torkel Gissel Nielsen, Technical University of Denmark
  • ,
  • Yvonne Shashoua, National Museum of Denmark
  • ,
  • Steffen Foss Hansen, Technical University of Denmark

Plastic pollution is considered one of today’s major environmental problems. Current land-based monitoring programs typically rely on beach litter data and seldom include plastic pollution further inland. We initiated a citizen science project known as the Mass Experiment inviting schools throughout The Danish Realm (Denmark, Greenland and the Faeroe Islands) to collect litter samples of and document plastic pollution in 8 different nature types. In total approximately 57,000 students (6–19 years) collected 374,082 plastic items in 94 out of 98 Danish municipalities over three weeks during fall 2019. The Mass Experiment was the first scientific survey of plastic litter to cover an entire country. Here we show how citizen science, conducted by students, can be used to fill important knowledge gaps in plastic pollution research, increase public awareness, establish large scale clean-up activities and subsequently provide information to political decision-makers aiming for a more sustainable future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17773
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

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