Plastics Resercher Returns from Great Lakes

By KBJR News 1

August 30, 2013 Updated Aug 30, 2013 at 10:18 PM CDT

Superior, WI (NNCNOW.com) - A University of Wisconsin Superior professor and her research team returned on Wednesday from their quest to find tiny pieces of plastic in the Great Lakes.

Dr. Lorena Rios and her team of UW–Superior Students have gained regional and national attention for their unique research into plastic particles found in the Great Lakes. On Thursday, they were recognized by faculty and staff.

"We are really really excited that Dr. Rios has formed a new research area of environmental plastics and how chemicals can become absorbed on these plastics," said Dr. Mary Balcer, Director of the Lake Superior Research Institue and chair of the Department of Natural Sciences.

This week her team returned from a ten day journey where they took samples from Lakes Michigan, Heron, and St. Claire.

"I didn't see a whole lot of visible plastic in Lake Erie but we do have a lot of suspended micro plastic. I really don't know the concentration of yet, but I suspect it could be less than Lake Erie," said Dr. Rios.

More research needs to be done before her team presents the findings to help fund a program.

"After we finish this research we have more information, and then we can show some results and ask for money and show that we have a problem," said Rios.

Currently, Rios is doing all the research on her own time and has no funding, but she is hopeful money will be found.

"We are really encouraging her to continue her research efforts, trying to find out where these particles are located, where they are coming from, how many chemicals are accumulating on them, and ultimately what affects this could have on humans," said Dr. Balcer.

Rios says the best way to combat this problem is for people to reduce, recycle, reuse and refuse plastic items.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.