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Like Attracts Like and Microplastics

Yesterday a coworker shared this article from The Guardian titled "It's raining plastic: microscopic fibers fall from the sky in the Rocky Mountains". Gregory Wetherbee, Research Chemist from the USGS, collected rainwater samples from across Colorado. These samples showed "a rainbow of plastic fibers, as well as beads and shards." Wetherbee said his findings were accidental as he was actually testing for nitrogen pollution. The article also said these that our water cleaning systems miss these tiny particles and we are literally drinking these fibers and so are animals. Scientists have been studying microplastics in the ocean for more than a decade and working to find a solution to clean these up.

Another article I found from EuroNews showed plastic microbeads are also being found in remote Arctic ice flows. Two excerpts from the article that caught my eye were these:

  • "Brice Loose, an oceanographer at the University of Rhode Island and chief scientist of the expedition, known as the Northwest Passage Project, said the amount of plastic they found was 'remarkable … maybe a little bit of a shock to all of us."

  • "'Beads, almost like the microbeads that show up in shampoo and exfoliating body wash, those kinds of things were really abundant in the ice, much more abundant than in the water,' he told a recording of Science Friday."

So is there hope?


Upon further research on microplastics I came across this article on EcoWatch about Fionn Ferreira, an Irish teen who won a Google Science Award for discovering a way to remove microplastics from the ocean. Ferreira discovered these plastic particles on an oil covered rock near his hometown. He said, "The tiny size of microplastics has befuddled scientists looking for ways to remove them from the environment."

Per Business Insider Ferreira knew that "In chemistry, like attacks like" and utilized a magnetic liquid called ferrofluid to attract the tiny plastic particles and removed them from the water! Ferriera said, "'I'm not saying that my project is the solution.' 'The solution is that we stop using plastic altogether.'"

The stories of microplastics and plastic pollution, in general, is extremely saddening. It is inspiring that our younger generations are working on and finding solutions, but like Ferriera said it's not only about finding solutions to fix our problems, it is about all of us being conscious consumers.

As always thanks for reading, I know this post about microplastics is a lot to take in and is not as inspirational as I was hoping to make my Thursday posts. For me, I am working hard to be conscious of all the plastics we use and buy. As my partner says the best way to recycle is to reuse so I think about that and work hard to only buy what is necessary. I don't think hope is lost, if anything there are a hundred ways to improve our daily lives. These improvements aren't easy per our current standard of convenient living and they require more awareness of each of our decisions, but we can make a difference if each of us tries to do something better each day.

Side note: I am having to relearn my grammar and how to quote. I apologize if I have improperly quoted. Please shoot me an e-mail if I need to adjust. Sad thing is I haven't had to do this since college...