LANSING — The Huron River near Ann Arbor had the greatest concentration of microplastic pollution, a recent study of Great Lakes tributaries shows. It also had the most plastic fragments in a study that categorized microplastics beyond the beads in consumer products like body wash identified in earlier studies. The study by Austin Baldwin, a hydrologist at the Wisconsin Water Science Center of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), categorized the plastic as beads, fragments, foams or fibers. Fragments are broken pieces of larger plastics, foams are filmy materials like bags and fibers include fishing line, rope and other fine materials. Baldwin’s team sampled 29 Great Lakes tributaries during the spring of 2014 and 2015.
By JAMES DAU
Capital News Service
LANSING — Plastic pollutants circulate in pockets of the Great Lakes at concentrations higher than any other body of water on Earth, according to a recent study. The study is the first to look at plastic pollutants in the Great Lakes and is part of a larger global endeavor to understand the origin and prevalence of plastic pollution in water. “We had two samples in Lake Erie that we just kept going back and rechecking the data, because the count, the number of plastic particles in the sample, was three times greater than any sample collected anywhere in the entire world,” said chemistry professor and project leader Sherri Mason of the State University of New York (SUNY) at Fredonia. Mason’s team of 20 students embarked this summer aboard the US Brig Niagara, the rebuilt flagship that won the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. Beginning in Lake Superior in July, the team sailed south through Lake Huron and into Lake Erie, collecting water samples as it traveled for three weeks.