PORTLAND, Ore. --- Most people are familiar with the growing crisis caused by plastic bags, water bottles and other large plastic debris contaminating oceans worldwide. But another type of plastic is causing alarm among researchers and conservationists.
Scientists say ''microplastics'' are turning up everywhere in oceans, from the water itself to the guts of fish and the poop of sea otters and giant killer whales.
Research into the impact of these tiny bits of broken-down plastic is just getting underway.
Dozens of scientists from universities, government agencies, aquariums and even water sanitation districts across the U.S. West will gather this week to discuss the problem.
Their goal is to create a risk assessment for microplastic pollution similar to plans developed for disasters like earthquakes.