The study of plastic pollution started in the worlds’ oceans, most famously focused on what has been called the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch.’ Despite a United Nations’ report suggesting that 80% of this oceanic debris came from land, very little research has focused upon freshwater systems even though they act as conduits from land to sea.
Our research group was among the first to study plastic pollution within freshwater systems. Our work started within the largest freshwater ecosystem in the world: the Laurentian Great Lakes of North America. It has evolved into numerous other related studies. Most recently our work captured international attention with our studies showing the pervasiveness of microplastics within basic human consumables: Tap Water, Beer, Sea Salt and Bottled Water.
Dr. Mason will present an overview of what plastic is, its proliferation in our society, and its emergence as one of the most prominent environmental pollutants.