Researchers from the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University met in Traverse City to discuss the impact this pollution has not just for the Great Lakes, but for us.

22 million pounds of plastic go into the great lakes every year.

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As researchers work to lower that number, the Watershed Center of Grand Traverse Bay says the amount of trash in the bay increases every year.

“Over time, the more people that we have, the more trash that we’re gonna see, and the more important it is for us to try and keep that out of our lakes,” said Christine Crissman, Executive Director of The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay.

The micro-plastics found in the water can also be harmful to our health.

“We know historically that microplastics, one of the many issues, is that they can carry molecules that can be harmful or toxic to organisms, including in people,” said Dr. Rodrigo Fernandez-Valdivia, Professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine.

It’s estimated we swallow microscopic plastic materials that add up to a credit card a week.

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“You can find it in food, as well as beverages, so you don’t know, you’re not aware of it, but you are actually ingesting microplastics,” said Fernandez-Valdivia.

Single-use plastics appear to be the biggest culprit.

“I think probably most people are most familiar with the plastic bags at grocery stores or other types of stores, you know, having your own bag to use, using paper instead could be a better choice, but it’s also single-use meaning little bags for sandwiches, bottled water,” said Dr. Britany Affolter-Caine, Executive Director at Michigan’s University Research Corridor

Senator Wayne Schmidt says he’s interested in legislation that promotes biodegradable plastics.

“We want to make sure though that we do something that’s affordable, that’s sustainable, and is useable by the consumer too,” said Schmidt. “We have this kind of scientific research going on in the state and we need to continue to fund it.”

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