UWS Researchers Making Breakthroughs on “Micro Plastics” Found in Great Lakes

SUPERIOR, Wis. —

Chemistry researchers at University of Wisconsin-Superior are making breakthroughs on pollutants called “micro plastics” that are found in the Great Lakes.

Many of these particles cannot be seen with the naked eye.

But with the use of microscopes and other special equipment, scientists can tell more about what these plastics are, and how common they are in our big lakes.

Much of this research started with the work of Dr. Lorena Rios Mendoza, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the university.

Dr. Rios’ work began when finding these same micro plastics in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.

The hypothesis is that the pollution comes from water treatment plants and from the everyday products we all use, like the bottles for our cosmetics and hair care products.

And since plastics aren’t biodegradable, researchers say it’s important for people to learn how to use them responsibly.

“If we have plastic items at home, we just need to reuse and reuse and reuse,” Dr. Rios said.  “Don’t throw it away; don’t buy the new ones if you don’t need it.  In school, always they teach you the “Three Rs.”  Recycle, reuse, and reduce.  I like to use ‘refuse.’  I you don’t need it, don’t use it.”

Wisconsin Senator Janet Bewley paid a visit to u-w-s earlier this morning to get a look at the latest research.

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