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Nurture our beaches pristine

THERE IS NO LACK OF

PLASTIC IN LAKE HURON

As we spend our hot summer days on the shores of Lake Huron, we must remember to leave no trace behind.

The beaches in Alpena are an essential part of the Great Lakes ecosystem, the planet’s largest system of fresh water. Scientists warn 1.4 million pounds of plastic enter Lake Huron each year. Most of that plastic enters the Lake from our public shorelines, from the litter we have left behind.

SINGLE-USE PLASTIC

CONTAMINATES OUR WATERWAYS

An estimated 22 million pounds of plastic debris enter the Great Lakes each year. Further, 80% of litter found along the Great Lakes shoreline is plastic debris. The millions of pounds of plastic debris in the Great Lakes is breaking down into microplastics and contaminating the fish we eat and the water we drink.

The perverse effects of plastic debris in marine systems has been well documented by scientists. Ingestion of plastic debris often causes injury or death to fish, reptiles and shorebirds.

Environmental contaminants like PCB, which is readily present in many coastal environments, bind to the microplastics floating in Lake Huron. Chemical-laden microplastics float across ecosystems and are ingested by fish, reptiles and shorebirds. Scientists are concerned chemical-laden microplastics will largely implicate coastal food systems. The presence of microplastics in Lake Huron’s marine environment pose a risk to human health.

THE CHEMICAL PCB BINDS TO

MICROPLASTIC AND

CONTAMINATES OUR LAKE TROUT

Today, median PCB concentrations in Lake Trout in Lake Huron remain above the target set forth in the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

PCB, or polychlorinated biphenyl, is a persistent organic pollutant that has remained present in Lake Huron decades after production of the pollutant was halted. PCBs were used as coolants and lubricants in electrical equipment until the production of PCB was banned in 1977.

MICHIGAN LEADS THE NATION

IN LITTER ABATEMENT.

We must all continue to do our part to keep plastic away from our shorelines.

We must support legislation that aims to reduce plastic litter on our shorelines. We must support Senate Bill 701, a bill to amend the Michigan Beverage Container Initiated Law of 1976. Introduced by state Sen. Sean McCann, of Kalamazoo, the amendment, currently held in committee in the statehouse, will improve the state’s beloved Bottle Bill. The amendment would place a 10-cent deposit on each plastic water bottle sold in the state, decreasing the likelihood that a plastic water bottle will mistakenly enter Lake Huron.

There is an opportunity for the Bottle Bill to be more effective in its original stated intention of reducing roadside litter, cleaning up the environment, and conserving energy and natural resources.

In 1976, when the Bottle Bill was drafted, plastic waste was not the crisis that it is today. In fact, in 1976, global annual plastic production was a fraction of the level recorded in 2015. In 2016, the sales of bottled water officially surpassed soft drinks in the United States.

I CAN’T BE A PESSIMIST

BECAUSE I AM ALIVE

Take action today. Pick up plastic water bottles on the beaches of Alpena and write in support of state Senate Bill 701 to Sen. Sean McCann (sensmccann@senate.michigan.gov).

Griffin Marie Francis Smith is an Ossineke native and graduate student at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

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