Saturday, December 12, 2015

Microplastics in the Great Lakes

One of the major locations in the United States that plastic pollution has been a severe problem are the great lakes. These five lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Superior sit between Canada and several states including Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, and are well known as one of the major geographical locations in the US. These lakes have been under attack by plastic waste coming from microplastics in consumer products as well as plastic pellets created by the plastic manufacturing industry. It was reported that Lake Michigan contained an average of 17,000 bits of plastic per square kilometer with Lake Huron and Superior having lower concentrations but Lake Erie and Lake Ontario having higher concentrations of plastic waste. These lakes also happen to be a common location for fishers to catch edible fish such as Salmon, Bass, Perch, and Trout.

Both Canadian and American wastewater treatment centers do not have any provisions for the monitoring or removal of microplastics and also lack the filtration capabilities to remove the microplastics as well. As a result of this most of the wastewater treatment centers are reported to be leaking microplastics directly into the lakes. There are no cost estimates as to how much it would be in order to retrofit these treatment centers to have the filtration capabilities in order to prevent the microplastics from getting through. A somewhat recent report suggested that as much as 81% of the plastic debris found in the Great Lakes are classified as microplastic <1mm.

The other major source of smaller plastics in the lake come from plastic manufacturers that may sometimes have spills during transport and end up releasing many small plastic pellets which are then washed into the lakes via rain or other weather events. These small pellets are used as a raw material for the manufacture of plastic products.


http://www.npr.org/2014/05/21/313157701/why-those-tiny-microbeads-in-soap-may-pose-problem-for-great-lakes

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0380133015000064

3 comments:

  1. Plastics have been proven to be hazardous in our health and the environment which is why most states have banned the use of it and instead uses paper bags. But there are still other states who opt to use plastics because we have been accustomed to it. But the more we use plastic, the greater risk we are putting our lives to. Plastic manufacturers relentlessly uses lakes in their operations without thinking of possible repercussions. But if they decide to continue with plastic usage, then companies and manufacturers must learn to properly dispose plastic wastes in order to save everyone from any pollution

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  2. Plastic bags are one thing yes, but it is only a very small part of the bigger problem. Think of all the things that you put INTO those shopping bags. Nearly everything on the shelf at a grocery store has some degree of plastic in it, or it required plastic to make it or transport it. The only feasible imminent solution is to buy in bulk, re-use everything you can and, generally live a more simple life to avoid going out into the world where these plastics are so prevalent and in many cases unavoidable.

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