Breaking News Bar
posted: 8/30/2013 7:38 PM
hello
Success - Article sent! close
 
Associated Press

DULUTH, Minn. -- Scientists have found tiny plastic particles in all of the Great Lakes.

They had previously discovered them in Lakes Superior, Huron and Erie and new summer research uncovered small concentrations also in Lake Michigan and Lake Ontario.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

Mary Balcer, director of the Lake Superior Research Institute at UW-Superior, who has studied more traditional Great Lakes threats such as zebra mussels, said plastics are a new culprit on the list of Great Lakes ecological troubles.

"The accumulation of plastic particles is a great threat to our natural ecosystem and to the humans who use Lake Superior for our drinking water supply," Balcer said Thursday.

Fresh off the research boat, Lorena Rios-Mendoza, assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, presented her preliminary findings to reporters Thursday.

She said Lake Erie seems to hold the highest concentrations of plastics.

, probably because the particles float downstream from the upper lakes, according to the Duluth News Tribune (http://bit.ly/1cnm6BS ).

The plastic has also been found in Lake Superior sediment, meaning it's not just floating on the surface, Rios-Mendoza said.

"It was very shallow where they were found, but they were in the sediment," Rios-Mendoza said.

The researchers dragged fine-mesh nets across the surface of lakes. Some of the plastic can be seen only under a microscope.

So far, Rios-Mendoza's hypothesis is that the plastic in the Great Lakes starts small, possibly as scrubbing beads in household or beauty products, facial scrubs and even some toothpaste.

The particles are tiny enough to slip through the screens at wastewater treatment plants and then start their journey across the Great Lakes.

Not only is the plastic itself an issue, she noted, but research has found that plastic can absorb persistent toxic chemicals, some of them known endocrine disrupters. So the floating plastic beads act like tiny, toxic sponges.

That's bad because the articles are just the size to be confused as food for small fish, she said.

------

Information from: Duluth News Tribune, http://www.duluthnewstribune.com

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.