DOWNTOWN — 5 Gyres Institute, an organization founded by a Santa Monica couple, has published scientific research involving micro-plastic pollution prevalence in the Great Lakes.
Research by Dr. Marcus Eriksen and his wife, 5 Gyres Executive Director Anna Cummins, found higher concentrations of micro-plastics in the Great Lakes than in the oceans they observed.
Eriksen said that the micro-plastics were similar in size, shape, texture, and composition to the micro-beads found in personal care products used as exfoliants.
“These products, designed to be washed down the drain, are not adequately being captured by sewage treatment,” Eriksen said.
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, Eriksen said.
5 Gyres researchers collaborated with researchers from the State University of New York (SUNY).
The highest plastic concentration the institute and university found in the lakes was 466,000 particles per kilometers squared with an average of 43,000 particles/km.
Out of all the Great Lakes, Lake Erie had 90 percent of the total plastics found.
The evidence was presented in their Corporate Social Responsibility Campaign last year.
According to 5 Gyres, the campaign has caused companies like Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson to remove plastic particles from their personal care products.
“This is our mission: To conduct the scientific research that equips 5 Gyres and concerned consumers to implement positive change and raise awareness of the scourge of plastic pollution in our oceans, lakes and other bodies of water,” Cummins said.