Researchers funded to examine microplastic contamination in the Great Lakes system
Besides providing drinking water for more than 30 million people in North America, the Great Lakes play a vital role in the economy’s transportation, power and agriculture sectors.
Plastic pollution in these water bodies has been widely acknowledged for a great deal of time, says Tirupati Bolisetti, an environmental engineering professor at UWindsor.
However, microplastics — particles that are 5 mm or smaller in size — hidden in the water are posing a much bigger problem for aquatic and human life.
“These ubiquitous microplastics are finding their way into the natural waters due to improper disposal of plastics, which degrade into small pieces,” Dr. Bolisetti says. “They come from plastic packaging, cosmetics, textiles, automotive components and plastic litter thrown on the beaches, to name a few.”
Some of these microplastics in the form of synthetic microfibers are also released from our wastewater systems, he adds.
A team of interdisciplinary researchers from the University of Windsor, including Bolisetti and Dr. Ram Balachandar, are collaborating with Dr. Shooka Karimpour and other researchers from York University to understand how microplastics originate and get transported to the western basin of Lake Ontario, called the Niagara basin.