Students study microplastics: Smallest of marine debris but big Great Lakes issue

August 21, 2015

Over time, plastic pollution in our environment breaks down into smaller and smaller plastic fragments, also known as microplastics. These small pieces of plastic absorb pollutants and can be consumed by fish and birds resulting in harm. In general, marine debris is a growing issue and concern in our world’s oceans but also here at home in our freshwater seas – the Great Lakes.

To better understand this issue, Alpena High School ninth-grade chemistry students, in cooperation with Great Lakes’ scientists, are researching plastic pollution in Thunder Bay and Lake Huron. Learn more about the project here.

Alpena teacher Melissa Smith sorts trawl samples with students aboard the Nancy K research vessel. Helen-Ann Cordes | Michigan State University Extension.