Lake Erie is in trouble
By AmeriCorps Intern Kenneth McArtor
Picture taken of plastic waste on Lake Erie in Pennsylvania by the Lake Erie Foundation
The current state of our lake
Lake Erie, when it comes to abundance, has the second highest amount of plastic particles out of all the Great Lakes and one of the highest concentrations of microplastics in the world.
Why it matters
The United Nations ranks plastic pollution as the second most dangerous threat to the global environment, only behind climate change. These plastics are broken down into microplastics, which are almost impossible to filter out of the water. Microplastics can disrupt natural food webs and even reduce the quality, size, and reproductive capabilities of the local fish we eat.
When you drink water, beverages made with water, eat fish, or even consume food processed with water, you are almost certainly ingesting microplastics. It is estimated that we are ingesting up to 52,000 microplastics per year. Toxic chemicals make up and attach to microplastics that are harmful for human consumption. These chemicals are known to increase the risk of developing cancer.
What must be done into the Future
Close to 300 million tons of plastic is produced each year. Nearly half of that are only used a few short minutes before they are tossed away into our lakes, oceans, and landfills to sit for hundreds of years.
Lake Erie is the source of drinking water for eleven million people. To make a real difference we must start to change our habits of purchasing and using single use plastics. For example, use reusable products, recycle items that are able to be recycled, and encourage others to do the same. Our lake can no longer be put on the backburner and desperately needs all of our help. Every decision we can make that puts Lake Erie first is a step in the right direction!