Becoming Benthic..Microplastics in the Great Lakes.

From the Great Pacific garbage patch to inland rivers, plastics are among the most widespread contaminants on Earth. Microplastics…those particles smaller than 5 milimeters are everywhere, building up as a permanent part of the planet’s sedimentary levels.

Now using the Great Lakes as a laboratory, sedimentary petrologist Pat Corcoran and her students at UWO are studying the behavior of microplastics as a geologic phenomenon.

The team found that the more organic debris in the samples,  the more microplastics. Benthic microplastics- those incorporated into into the lake bottom sediments- were also numerous near high population areas.

 

Surprisingly, not all plastic fibers found in benthic samples were plastic. Under analysis only 33% were plastic..the rest was dyed cotton or cellulose. It was also found there was little corelation between pop density or industry and the number of pellets. Instead , pellets were concentrated near tributaries…rivers and creeks are the main pathway used by the plastic pellets to reach the lskes

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