The study of plastic pollution started in the worlds’ oceans, most famously focused on what has been called the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch.’ Despite a United Nations’ report suggesting that 80% of this oceanic debris came from land, very little research has focused upon freshwater systems even though they likely act as conduits from land to sea. Given the size and importance of the Laurentian Great Lakes, they provide a significant representative model for other freshwater ecosystems throughout the world. During the summers of 2012 and 2013, Dr. Sherri Mason, chair of the Department of Geology & Environmental Sciences at the State University of New York at Fredonia, conducted the first survey for plastic pollution within the open-waters of the Great Lakes. Dr. Mason presents the results from these initial open-water surveys, as well as additional investigations that were engaged upon as a result of these studies, including tributaries to the Great Lakes and wastewater treatment plant effluent.
presented by Dr. Sherri A. Mason