Green Matter: Beat the Micro Bead!

The discovery of the plastic soup—the huge gyres of plastic waste that pollute the world's oceans—was bad enough. Now, it turns out it's not just the oceans. Last year, an expedition from the 5Gyres Institute found high concentrations of micro beads in the Great Lakes; three weeks ago, Swiss researchers recently reported finding significant concentrations of microplastics in Lake Geneva.

"Polystyrene beads were the most common culprits, but hard plastics, plastic membranes, and bits of fishing line were also widespread," the researchers reported.

"Lake water was also shown to contain significant amounts of microplastic contamination - pieces of plastic waste up to 5 millimeters in diameter."

These microplastics in inland bodies of water may well be the main source of microplastic pollution in oceans. Scientists estimate that only around 20% of oceanic microplastics are dumped straight into the sea. The remaining 80% are estimated to originate from land sources, such as waste dumps, street litter and sewage.

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