11/4/13

In the news: Great Lakes microplastic pollution research recently published

Earlier this year, Anjanette Riley and Laura Kammin from IISG participated in one of several research excursions on the Great Lakes, collecting samples to analyze the microplastic content of the water. Related research was recently published, and the findings are surprising. 

"Take a dip in lakes Erie, Huron, or Superior and you will be swimming in more than just water. According to a recently published study, these lakes contain an unexpectedly large amount of floating plastic debris. Even more surprising, much of what the researchers found were microplastic fragments and pellets like the kind used in toothpastes and facial and body scrubs. At less than one millimeter, these tiny pieces of plastic are too small to be filtered out at wastewater treatment facilities before the water is released into the lakes.

Researchers from 5 Gyres Institute and State University of New York (SUNY) Fredonia made the discovery in 2012 after collecting a total of 21 samples from the lakes. They found plastics in all but one sample. Of the three lakes, Lake Erie had the highest concentrations of plastics, roughly 90 percent of the total amount measured. The authors speculate that the high concentrations may be the result of currents carrying the plastics from the cities of Detroit, Cleveland, and Erie. Back in the lab, further inspection revealed that along with the microplastics, eight of the samples contained coal ash and coal fly ash (produced by coal-burning power plants)."
Read the complete post at the link above.

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