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Welcome to the Microplastics Fingerprinting project

Plastics pollution is a global and growing environmental hazard with potentially far-reaching consequences for food webs, biodiversity, ecosystem services and human well-being. Of particular concern are microplastics because their small sizes enhance their mobility, toxicity to wildlife, and capacity to leach potentially dangerous contaminants.

The Microplastics Fingerprinting at the watershed scale: from sources to receivers project seeks to better understand the sources, transport, fate and exposure risks of microplastics at a watershed scale in the lower Great Lakes. In doing so, we hope to inform program and policy approaches that can mitigate risks posed by plastic debris in the environment.    

The project will analyze the reactivity and breakdown of microplastics in river systems and reservoirs, quantify the loads of microplastics delivered to the lower Great Lakes, optimize microplastics elimination in wastewater treatment plants, and determine the abundance and diversity of microplastics in drinking water sources.

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The Microplastics Fingerprinting project team consists of over 25 faculty members, masters and PhD students, and support staff from various disciplinary backgrounds. We recognize this diversity as a strength that enables an interdisciplinary and holistic evaluation of the challenges and solutions associated with microplastics. Each issue of our newsletter will feature one of the project’s excellent researchers.