Ever wonder what happens after you dispose of your empty body wash or facial scrub containers? Those same products are landing in the Great Lakes and polluting our environment. Dr. Sherri Mason, a professor at SUNY Fredonia and our previous IWA expert, has now lead the charge on the study of higher levels of microplastics in Lake Erie.
Microplastics are small particles that are added to personal care items to give them an abrasive property. They can be found in your toothpaste, deodorants, body washes, hand cleansers and facial scrubs. In summer 2012, in collaboration with the 5 Gyres Institute, Mason recorded the plastic content of Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Superior and discovered that Lake Erie had higher concentrations of microplastics than any other body of water on Earth, with concentrations exceeding data collected in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Alarming levels were also present in Lakes Huron and Superior.