Study: Great Lakes plastics levels high

Published: November 9, 2012 6:00 am ET

Plastic pollutants circulate in pockets of the Great Lakes at concentrations higher than any other body of water on Earth, according to a State University of New York researcher.

In July, Sherri Mason, a professor at SUNY Fredonia and coordinator of the school’s environmental sciences program, led a survey of plastic pollution in the Great Lakes that was done in collaboration with the 5 Gyres Institute.

Mason’s research is starting to get attention from environmental blogs and news sites, and the results aren’t pretty.

“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,” she told James Dau of Great Lakes Echo, an environmental news site.

According to Stiv Wilson of 5 Gyres, the plastic found in the Great Lakes is different from what’s found in the ocean.

The particles in the Great Lakes appear to be plastic beads, such as those used in some facial cleansers or as abrasives in ship sandblasting. Mason’s team found three times as many pieces of plastic in the Great Lakes water samples as researchers find in a typical oceanic gyre sample, Wilson said, but the Great Lakes particles are extremely small — 0.5 millimeter and below, not the typical 5mm fragments found in the ocean.

By weight, the plastic concentration in the Great Lakes is very low as compared to oceanic pollution, Wilson wrote. So what makes the Great Lakes pollution unusual is the number of particles.

Mason’s team studied Lakes Superior, Erie and Huron this summer.


Comments

Study: Great Lakes plastics levels high

Published: November 9, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story

Market Reports

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 million dollar plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events