Smart Management of Microplastic Pollution in the Great Lakes is an innovative initiative to reduce microplastic pollution in communities surrounding the Great Lakes. Our team includes people throughout the region who are working to protect the Great Lakes ecosystem.

This work is grounded in the growing public concern about the sources of and solutions for microplastic pollution. Our approach includes the development of:

  • New sensor technology for microplastic detection,
  • Targeted methods for microplastic control, and
  • Public awareness strategies for increasing microplastic mitigation.

What are microplastics?

Microplastics include fragments or fibers from deteriorating products like containers and clothing and manufactured products like microbeads and latex paint.  Microplastics are less than 5 millimeters in size.  Microplastics can break down into nanoplastics, which are smaller than 0.001 millimeters and may be biologically active, becoming a part of our bodies, and the bodies of other organisms, when consumed. Microplastics have been found in wastewater, freshwater rivers and lakes, groundwater, oceans, and drinking water.

Challenges this project is addressing

The small size of microplastics allows for their easy entry into food chains and makes monitoring and detection difficult.  Conventional water treatment processes may be unable to completely filter out microplastics. If new technologies could provide rapid detection and response to microplastics pollution, or prevent microplastics from entering the environment and our drinking water, we could reduce the effects of microplastics pollution on a regional, national, and international level.

The resources and tools on our website are designed to support others who share our vision for a world that is free from the impacts of microplastics. Together we can make a difference.