Interesting piece about the discovery of toxic pollutants clinging to plastic and traveling to other parts of the Great Lake where they can cause more damage to aquatic and human health. Great Lakes Echo, April 9, 2013.
Rios Mendoza presented the survey results at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting. She and other researchers found from 1,500 to 1.7 million plastic particles per square mile, with the highest counts from Lake Erie. Rios Mendoza’s analysis of the Lake Erie samples found polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, also called polyaromatics or PAHs, at concentrations roughly twice what she found in the Atlantic Ocean. The analysis also revealed polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which she is still analyzing.
Scientists have linked both PAHs and PCBs to human and aquatic health threats.
PAHs and PCBs, as well as organochlorides, are Persistent Organic Pollutants, or POPs. They can stay in the environment for 50 years or more. They also bioaccumulate—move up the food chain from one organism to another, becoming more concentrated at each level.