A recent survey completed by the 5 Gyres Institute found high concentrations of micro plastics in the Great Lakes, according to a press release.
"We found high concentrations of micro-plastics, more than most ocean samples collected worldwide. These were of similar size, shape, texture and composition to plastic microbeads found in many consumer products used as exfoliants, giving us circumstantial evidence that these products, designed to be washed down the drain, are not adequately being captured by sewage treatment."
The highest concentration of the microbeads was in Lake Erie. As with other plastic marine pollution, the tiny plastic beads are not biodegradable. And just like other plastic marine pollution, animals accidentally ingest the plastic beads, causing them to enter the food chain.
These findings echo a recent study on freshwater species in Italy’s Lake Garda, which found tiny plastic particles in the digestive tracts of freshwater species.
5 Gyres has launched the microsite http://www.beatthemicrobead.org/ as well as an international mobile app that will allow users to scan the barcode of a product and see if it contains microbeads.
The next time you purchase a product, such as a facial cleanser or exfoliant, check the label to see if it has plastic microbeads in it, and if it does, consider purchasing one without them. It’s a simple choice that can have a big impact.
Find out more about plastic marine pollution and what you can do to help fight it.
Photo credit: 5 Gyres Institute