Great Lakes News

Great Lakes News

Microscopic Plastic Threatens Great Lakes


The Great Lakes are becoming increasingly clogged with microscopic bits of plastic that potentially threaten the lakes’ natural ecosystem, including resident fish and plant life, according to a recent report published in The Huffington Post,

Apparently this phenomenon is not new and scientists have been examining it for decades, particularly in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the report states. 

The “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” which is probably the best known of these floating plastic and debris collections, is estimated to be roughly twice the size of the state of Texas, according to The Huffington Post article.

“The massive production of plastic and inadequate disposal has made plastic debris an important and constant pollutant on beaches and in oceans around the world,” Lorena M. Rios Mendoza, a University of Wisconsin-Superior scientist researching the impact of such pollution, was quoted as saying in the news article. “The Great Lakes are not an exception.”

Rios told the paper that the plastic buildup, which makes up roughly 80 to 90 percent of all ocean pollution, could be particularly bad in the Great Lakes because the particles are so tiny. 

In samples Rios’ team collected from Lake Erie, 85 percent of particles were smaller than two-tenths of an inch, and many were microscopic. Her group found between 1,500 and 1.7 million of these particles per square mile, according to the news story.

Photo by Markus Eriksen