LANSING — Out of sight, out of mind. That might once have been the motto when disposing of plastic, but now it’s washing up on Great Lakes shores like a message in a polyethylene terephthalate bottle. It’s not water bottles or plastic bags, but what’s left of them. These tiny pieces of plastic, or microplastics, range from the size of a sesame seed to a lentil, said Patricia Corcoran, who studies sediment as a researcher at the University of Western Ontario in London. Corcoran found more microplastics in Lake Ontario than in Lake Erie.
While health agencies statewide investigate the link between contaminated drinking water and a firefighting foam, use of the substance remains legal. The chemical, known as PFAS, is linked to contamination at Gerald R. Ford International Airport and Camp Grayling. Firefighters say alternative foams aren’t as effective.
Mercury levels remain high in the lakes, rivers and fish of the Western U.P. despite a substantial drop in airborne mercury emissions over the past 30 years, according to scientists from Michigan Technological University and the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s a “geographic enigma” with serious health implications.
The Gibbs family helped build hydropower dams along the Boardman River. Now some of their descendants are unhappy that those dams have been or are being removed.” As 92-year-old Edna Sargent of Mayfield Township puts it, “We didn’t want to see the dams taken out because we like it the way it was.
When the Brown Bridge Dam was being removed from the Boardman River tribal Hank Bailey of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians feared that people would die because of damage caused by its removal. Six years later, he wants young people to develop the same kind of love he holds for the Boardman River, for the outdoors and for Mother Earth and “think about it daily in their lives so that it becomes that important.”
Tawny Hammond, a long-time visitor and recent transplant to Traverse City, says dam removals and river restoration will benefit the local outfitting business that she helps run and that rents kayaks, canoes and paddle boards. “People would be able to paddle down the river unencumbered without any portages. I think it’s going to be beautiful,” she says.
Microparticles of plastic are showing up in beers brewed from municipal water sourced from all five Great Lakes, according to a new study of 12 locally brewed beers, including ones from Holland and Alpena.
Michigan lawmakers may soon require schools and other facilities to regularly test their water for lead and other harmful contaminants. The House Natural Resources Committee heard testimony on a series of proposed bills that would require yearly testing at both public and private schools, including colleges and universities, child care centers, hospitals and veteran centers. House Bills 4120, 4372 and 4378 each focus on specific areas of education. All three bills have sat in the House for over a year, some going back as far as January 31, 2017. Recently, there has been an increase in the support of the bills from both sides of the aisle. Committee Chairman Rep. Gary Howell, R-North Branch, voiced his support for the bills, and added that he can’t imagine there will be much resistance.
By KATE HABREL
Capital News Service
LANSING — Scientists using GoPro cameras in Lake Michigan have found the lakebed coated in invasive quagga mussels. The GoPros are attached to a small dredge used to sample the lakebed in what’s called a “grab.” Called a Ponar dredge – the device has long been used to research lake bottoms. It takes a scoop of sand, mud and mussels for analysis. The addition of the camera helps guide the grab. “The mussels get more sparse as you get deeper, but it’s like a continuous carpet across the lake,” said Ashley Elgin, a benthic ecologist at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. “It’s not just this one patch where you dropped your camera down.
By LAUREN CARAMAGNO
Capital News Service
LANSING — What do Chinese soybean farmers have in common with the health of Michigan’s rivers? While their relationship may not seem obvious, both are now studied through an emerging concept in scientific research called telecoupling. That’s when researchers connect the science of human behavior with the study of ecology to better understand how the world is connected. It’s a technique that can help experts predict future natural disasters and environmental needs. “This is a novel way of approaching problems in which humans and environment in one area are connected to humans and environment in another area,” said Anna Herzberger, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University.
By BAILEY LASKE
Capital News Service
LANSING – If you’re thinking of moving in Michigan and worry about water quality, finding the perfect area might be harder than you think. Because of a wide variety of contaminants, pinpointing one area that has the cleanest drinking water or the worst drinking water isn’t an easy task.
“It’s hard to say where the most issues are. There are different issues in different communities around the state,” said Sean McBrearty, a program organizer at Clean Water Action, an advocacy group.. Lead receives the most headlines but Michigan’s main drinking water contaminants include arsenic, nitrate, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and lead.