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5 Gyres Publishes First Scientific Paper On Plastic Pollution In The Great Lakes

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For Immediate Release

October 28, 2014

MAJOR SCIENTIFIC JOURNAL PUBLISHES  FIRST SURVEY OF MICRO-PLASTIC POLLUTION IN THE GREAT LAKES

DIRECT LINK TO STUDY HERE

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA– The 5 Gyres Institute, in collaboration with researchers from SUNY Fredonia, have published the first micro-plastic pollution survey of the Great Lakes Region in the Marine Pollution Bulletin.  Says 5 Gyres’ Dr. Marcus Eriksen, lead author on the paper, “We found high concentrations of micro-plastics, more than most ocean samples collected worldwide. These were of similar size, shape, texture and composition to plastic microbeads found in many consumer products used as exfoliants, giving us circumstantial evidence that these products, designed to be washed down the drain, are not adequately being captured by sewage treatment.”

5 Gyres is the first research organization to study all 5 Oceans, and the only organization to study the southern hemisphere gyres. After completing that work, the subject of a forthcoming scientific paper, 5 Gyres sailed throughout The Great Lakes in two expeditions to quantify the presence of plastics.

The highest abundance measured was 466,000 particles/km2 with an average of 43,000 particles/kmthroughout all the samples. The highest concentrations of micro-plastics were observed in Lake Erie, and accounted for about 90% of the total plastics found.  In addition to polyethylene and polypropylene beads found in the samples, there were also particles of aluminum silicate, or coal ash, a byproduct of coal fired power plants.

With these findings, The 5 Gyres Institute launched a Corporate Social Responsibility campaign last year asking the manufacturers of personal care products to pledge to remove these plastic microbeads from their products.  Faced with this preliminary evidence, now solidified by the scientific paper’s publication in a peer-reviewed journal, many of the companies targeted have agreed to phase out the use of these beads, namely, L’Oreal, The Body Shop, Colgate-Palmolive, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, and Procter & Gamble.  Though a tremendous victory for The Great Lakes, 5 Gyres recognizes the need for further engagement.  Several states and municipalities have expressed a desire to consider legislation banning micro-plastics as ingredients in consumer products because of their tendency to escape sewage treatment.  5 Gyres is working with a team of advisors to produce model legislation for states to consider.

Continuing the grassroots campaign will only buoy these legislative efforts. In partnership with The Plastic Soup Foundation (Netherlands) and Stichting De Noordzee (Netherlands), The 5 Gyres Institute has launched the microsite http://www.beatthemicrobead.org/ as well as the international mobile app. “Beat The Microbead” which allows consumers to scan the barcode of personal care products to determine whether they contain plastic microbeads and whether the manufacturer has agreed to remove them or not.

beatthebeadlogo

“The Beat The Microbead app. is a powerful tool that takes the guess work out of whether or not you’ll be washing your face with plastic, ” says 5 Gyres Policy Director, Stiv Wilson,  “Since launching our public awareness and corporate facing campaign, the overwhelming reaction from our community is shock and anger. People simply don’t like washing their face with plastic, and the fact that it’s designed to go straight into the environment makes microbeads a particularly egregious source of plastic pollution. These beads are similar in size to fish eggs and can absorb and concentrate toxins found in the aquatic environment, making them an ecosystem wide threat to the food chain. This can ultimately threaten human health as well. ”  5 Gyres volunteers across the country are working to add to the ever growing database of products that employ micro-beads.

For high-resolution photographs and film assets, or for interview inquiries, please contact Stiv Wilson at The 5 Gyres Institute at 503.913.7381 or stiv@5gyres.org

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.

www.5gyres.org

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15 Responses

  1. Samantha says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’ll be sure to spread the word! (p.s. there is a typo in the date)

  2. [...] “Microplastic Pollution in the Surface Waters of the Laurentian Great Lakes,” published this week in scientific journal Marine Pollution Bulletin by the 5 Gyres Institute with researchers from SUNY Fredonia, documents the existence of microbeads in the Great Lakes. [...]

  3. [...] “Microplastic Pollution in the Surface Waters of the Laurentian Great Lakes,” published this week in scientific journal Marine Pollution Bulletin by the 5 Gyres Institute with researchers from SUNY Fredonia, documents the existence of microbeads in the Great Lakes. [...]

  4. [...] The app was released this week in conjunction with a Great Lakes plastics study from the 5 Gyres group. [...]

  5. [...] processing, and have long been suspected in freshwater pollution. The paper has occasioned a pledge from several big cosmetics companies to phase out the use of beads in their [...]

  6. Gregg Vann says:

    Gentlemen,

    As always, you folks do great work. Much appreciated! Just noticed the release date of your Great Lakes pollution paper is dated Oct 2014, not 2013. I want to make sure you receive proper credit…in the correct year!

    Regards,
    Gregg

  7. [...] “Microplastic Pollution in the Surface Waters of the Laurentian Great Lakes,” published this week in scientific journal Marine Pollution Bulletin by the 5 Gyres Institute with researchers from SUNY Fredonia, documents the existence of microbeads in the Great Lakes. [...]

  8. [...] tiny plastic beads, are a part of the microplastics that researchers find in the oceans and now, a new study reveals, in the Great [...]

  9. [...] NEWS FROM THE FRONT LINES: Microplastic Pollution in the Surface Waters of the Laurentian Great Lakes, published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin by The 5 Gyres Institute, “found high [...]

  10. [...] Backing high quality, safe, ingredients. Human contact products have plastic microbead, nanoparticles and heavy metals added, impacting human health and environment. Same is visible in [...]

  11. [...] But recent scientific investigations have shown that the micro plastic balls are also found in major lakes and other waterways that communities rely on for drinking water, where they absorb toxic chemicals released into the environment and are eaten by fish, who mistake them for food. [...]

  12. [...] But recent scientific investigations have shown that the micro plastic balls are also found in major lakes and other waterways that communities rely on for drinking water, where they absorb toxic chemicals released into the environment and are eaten by fish, which mistake them for food. [...]

  13. [...] 5 Gyres has made an app for that – search “Beat The Microbead” to download a free app which allows you to scan a product to see if it contains [...]

  14. [...] hazy, but scientists have already said that it is having negative effects on the local ecosystems. A study conducted by the 5 Gyres Institute found that there was over 1.7 million microbeads per 1sq …. The beads are so small that they pass right through most filtration stations at your local waste [...]

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