July 12, 2012
Until now, scientists could only guess at the amount of plastic waste in the Great Lakes. This week, a team of researchers sets sail to conduct the first-ever survey of plastic pollution in the world's largest fresh water system and will try to put numbers on a perception that plastics pervade them.
“You really have to start with, ‘Is this even an issue in the Great Lakes? [With] 35 million people living around the Great Lakes, all the plastic you see blowing around, common sense is that it’s out there,” says Sherri “Sam” Mason, professor within SUNY Fredonia’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
As Mason walks along the shore of Lake Erie a few days before the voyage begins, she can’t help picking up litter lodged in the sand: empty bottles, a discarded bag of Funyuns, and cigarette butts, which are, surprisingly, plastic.
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Daniel Robison/ The Innovation Trail