Scientists have long been studying the presence of plastic debris in the world's oceans, but when they searched the Great Lakes for the first time, the findings were alarming.
It turns out that the same objects responsible for polluted areas like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch have been found in the Great Lakes, and it might even be worse in the Great Lakes than in the oceans, according to the study presented by Lorena M. Rios Mendoza, Ph.D. at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.
Because the collection of debris is made up of small pieces of plastic objects, the patches often go unnoticed, according to the Mother Nature Network. However, when the team got out into the patches of garbage, the size of the problem in the Great Lakes became much clearer.
"Fish and birds could be harmed from accidently eating the plastic particles, or absorbing substances that leach out into the water," stated the report, adding that the analysis confirmed fish are consuming the particles. There's also a fear that fish are passing these particles on to humans, though there isn't much research at the current time to support that theory.
According to the report, production of plastics has increased 500 percent since 1980 and now accounts for at least 80 percent of ocean pollution. You can read the full report here.