FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The 5 Gyres Institute Sets Sail For First Ever Plastic Pollution Study Of Lake Michigan
Contact: Stiv Wilson, email@example.com, +1 503.913.7381
August 1st, 2013
On August 3rd, 2013, a team from The 5 Gyres Institute will launch an unprecedented expedition to quantify and report on the extent of plastic pollution in Lake Michigan. The survey will be broken into three legs during the first three weeks of August. Despite volumes of anecdotal evidence, to this date no validated attempt has been made to study the severity of this problem in the lake, the health of which is critical to millions of Americans. Though public awareness is growing about the plastic problem pervasive in the world’s oceans, 5 Gyres has shown that plastic pollution is affecting upstream, fresh water systems as well.
Previously, in August of 2012, the team from The 5 Gyres Institute sailed Lake Superior, Lake Huron and Lake Erie, completing the first ever plastic pollution survey in The Great Lakes, discovering some of the highest concentrations of plastic particles ever recorded in any aquatic environment, fresh or salt water. The findings of the first expedition are documented in the first scientific research paper on the subject, which has been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. The publication of the paper is anticipated within the coming months.
This year, The 5 Gyres Institute, with researchers from SUNY, Fredonia, will spend August accumulating detailed samples from Lake Michigan in order to determine the surface density of plastic pollution, the type of plastics found, and the chemical uptake of persistent organic pollutants absorbed by plastic. Says Dr. Marcus Eriksen, Co-Founder and Research Director of The 5 Gyres Institute, “Having been the first and only group to sail all 5 of the world’s oceans conducting similar research on plastic pollution, we’ve turned our attention to these important fresh water ecosystems. In the oceans, we know that base food chain fish eat toxin-laden plastics and that humans are often the apex predator of that food system. This makes us curious about how plastics may be affecting fresh water species, and ultimately, us.”
Last year, The 5 Gyres Institute made a startling discovery in samples taken from Superior, Huron and Erie that lead to a massive corporate campaign to prevent plastics from reaching watersheds. In Erie, the 5 Gyres team found over 450,000 micro polyethylene beads per square kilometer, the same beads employed in personal care products as an exfoliant. Health and beauty products containing plastic micro-beads that are bought by the general public are designed to be washed down the drain as they are rinsed from the face and body. The plastic micro beads are too small to be adequately captured by waste-water treatment. These findings, the subject of the peer reviewed paper, lead The 5 Gyres Institute to launch a campaign asking the producers of these products to eliminate plastic micro-beads in favor of available, natural alternatives. The 5 Gyres Institute, after reporting their scientific findings to companies that utilize micro-beads and launching a massive grassroots campaign to end their use, has won several key victories that will help protect The Great Lakes ecosystem. Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, The Body Shop and Colgate-Palmolive have all pledged to remove these synthetic beads from their products by 2015. The 5 Gyres Institute has also received a pledge from Proctor & Gamble to phase out these beads by 2017, but the campaigning for an earlier phase-out continues.
For high-resolution images, video and interviews from the team conducting the research please contact firstname.lastname@example.org / 503.913.7381.
*There is potential for interested radio and/or television media to join The 5 Gyres Institute crew for a one day sampling expedition to Lake Michigan. Interested parties should contact Stiv Wilson immediately.
ABOUT THE 5 GYRES INSTITUTE:
The 5 Gyres Institute, for a planet free of plastic pollution, is a non-profit organization dedicated to researching the issue of plastics in the world’s oceans, and engaging communities in systemic change. In 2011, 5 Gyres completed the first global survey of plastic marine pollution, finding evidence of plastic across all 5 subtropical “gyres”, oceanic current systems where plastic waste accumulates. In addition to contaminating precious marine ecosystems, plastic waste threatens wildlife, and poses risks to human health as toxic chemicals from plastic enter the food chain we depend on. Utilizing scientific findings, 5 Gyres engages corporate partners, policymakers, and the general public to reduce plastic pollution by improving product design, recovery systems, and individual responsibility for plastic waste.