Skin care products source of plastic pellets in Great Lakes
Researchers have found the source of the plastic pellets that have washed up on the shores of several Great Lakes over the last few years, and it turns out the plastic pollution comes from products meant to keep us clean.
Three years ago when Stephanie Donaldson found tiny plastic pellets washed ashore near Grand Bend she knew something was up.
"My first impression was they didn't belong on the beach. I don't know how they got there but I knew they didn't belong there," she says.
It turns out those plastic pellets are coming from people's sinks. They are the microbeads being used in facewashes, hand soaps and toothpastes as exfoliants or abrasives.
Water treatment plants can't seem to filter them out so they are ending up in the lakes and in the world's oceans too.
A beach in Hong Kong was inundated with the tiny plastic pellets last year at this time.
An American scientist traced the beads back to grooming products after years of research.
Shoreline mayors like Goderich's Deb Shewfelt say they are relieved the mystery of the plastic pollution has largely been solved.
"It's an asset that everybody should be protecting - so whether it's even picking up after your dog, getting rid of the pellets or toxic chemicals. I think we are on the road to start recovery from some of these things."
The researchers took their findings to the companies that make the facewashes and toothpastes asking them to help stop the flow of their products into the lake.
They expected a fight, but they didn't get one. All the companies involved have agreed to stop microbead production by no later than 2017.
Shewfelt says "How many more things that we don't know are added to products and I think it's a process of elimination and it's very important. I know that there's been money put up for the green fund to try and work with some of the industries to control some of the toxic substances that are going in there."
For more on plastic pollution visit: http://5gyres.org/