Microplastic pollution

Other very small pieces of plastic are polluting the Great Lakes. Microplastic fibres or lines were "found in 29 different tributaries that account for about 22 percent of all river flow into the Great Lakes", according to Michigan Live's article by Garret Ellison on the United States Geological Survey's report.

Unlike microbeads, efforts to contain the other sources of tiny fragments of plastic haven't really begun to be tackled meaningfully. Some sources include: plastic bags, fibres from cigarette butts, and fibres from textiles like fleece that get released when washed and more. Most of them tend to be less than a millimeter in size and therefore a proportion of them pass through sewage plant filtration into our waterways .

In terms of Ontario and Canada, the Province of Ontario, in a post updated Feb 21st 2016, is undertaking studies to examine sources and make-up of microplastics and determine what happens to them when they enter the Great Lakes. Read more here.

Binational Approach. The International Joint Commission (IJC) is seeking input on an approach to microplastics entering the Great Lakes. According to watercanada.net , the IJC's 4 recommendations include:
  • "encourage a binational pollution prevention plan utilizing multiple approaches and tools,
  • propose developing science-based, standardized, binational monitoring and research into product lifecycles, human and ecological health impacts, and best prevention practices,
  • advise governments to examine, promote, and support pollution reduction and prevention programs that are existing and effective, and
  • advocate funding support for local education and outreach programs and organizations focused on pollution reduction and prevention."
  • What can you do?

    Some practical and general tips include avoiding over consumption of clothing for example, avoid buying polyester, decrease your laundering, minimize plastic bag use, and learn as much as you can about the topic to support action especially around more responsible textile use.

Sources and acknowledgements

Thank you to the sources for information in this post.

Note - We try to bring together information to help understand this topic. We do use sources to provide information and visuals. We do our best to attribute properly and try very hard to get it right. If we have made an inadvertent mistake around recognizing someone’s work or misinterpreting the work, please let us know via email at communications and I will correct.

  • www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/09/microplastic_fibers_great_lake.html.
  • http://www.ontario.ca/page/microplastics-and-microbeads.
  • http://www.ec.gc.ca/lcpe-cepa/eng/regulations/detailReg.cfm?intReg=238.
  • http://globalnews.ca/news/3047732/plastic-microbeads-will-be-banned-in-canada-effective-mid-2018/.
  • http://watercanada.net/2016/ijc-seeks-input-on-binational-approach-to-microplastics-entering-the-great-lakes/.
  • US Strengthens Toxic Substances Law