Almost 10,000 Metric Tons Of Plastic Enter Great Lakes Every Year: Study

Posted: Dec 24 2016, 12:03am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

Almost 10,000 Metric Tons of Plastic Enter Great Lakes Every Year: Study
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Half of the plastic pollution or 5,000 metrics tons per year goes into Lake Michigan

Every year, nearly 10,000 metric tons of plastic debris ends up in the Great Lakes from United States and Canada – far more than the total that has been estimated in the previous studies.

In an effort to track plastic pollution in interconnected freshwater lakes in North America, researchers have found that Lake Michigan receives most of the plastic debris among Great Lakes. Almost half of the plastic pollution - 5,000 metric ton per year - goes into Lake Michigan, followed by Lake Erie’s 2,500 metric tons and Lake Ontario’s 14,000 metric tons. Lake Huron get 600 metric tons of plastic while Lake Superior 32 metric tons per year. The plastic pollution in Lake Michigan is equivalent to 100 Olympic-sized pools full of plastic debris.

“This study is the first picture of the true scale of plastic pollution in the Great Lakes,” said lead author Matthew Hoffman from Rochester Institute of Technology.

“Most of the particles from Chicago and Milwaukee end up accumulating on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, while the particles from Detroit and Cleveland end up along the southern coast of the eastern basin of Lake Erie.”

Until now, most efforts to measure ocean’s plastic pollution have involved sample counts of plastic floating around in water. The new study, however, utilizes computer modeling for the first time to quantify plastic debris flowing into Great Lakes every year. The results provide environmentally realistic and clearer picture of the concentrations of plastic in the Great Lakes. Also, it offers a look at how much plastic waste different cities produce and how much of it could potentially spill into the Great Lakes.

Cities with high population are the biggest source of plastic pollution in Great Lakes. Chicago, Toronto, Cleveland and Detroit release more plastic particles than other cities in their shorelines. 

Plastic waste is one the most serious threats to our ecosystems, which could be consumed by fish and other species and could pose danger for their population. The findings can help water managers better understand the major sources of the plastic debris and which lakes are most polluted, which will eventually contribute in cleanup efforts. 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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