Second advisory board meeting held at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administratio

The second advisory board meeting for the Smart Management of Microplastic Pollution in the Great Lakes took place on Oct. 2nd, 2019 at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab (NOAA/GLERL) in Ann Arbor, MI. About 40 participants attended the meeting. Objectives for the second advisory board meeting were to review and discuss project progress, identify possible challenges, facilitate networking and information sharing, and discuss outreach activities to inform communities about microplastics issues in the Great Lakes.

To begin, Dr. Yongli Zhang and Dr. Deborah Lee of NOAA/GLERL introduced and welcomed meeting participants. Dr. Lee discussed the research impacts of plastics, and Dr. Zhang covered project updates. After this, stakeholders had the opportunity to introduce themselves to one another. Next, this meeting’s featured speaker Sarah Lowe of the Marine Debris Program talked about the impacts and efforts to reduce marine debris across the nation. Then team faculty and staff shared updates on the project’s community outreach, engagement, and sensor technology. In the afternoon, participants broke into groups for breakout session discussions on community engagement and sensor technology.

  • Participants from the community engagement breakout session emphasized the need to connect with communities on microplastics issues. Solutions include focusing on affordable and accessible microplastic mitigation efforts, connecting microplastic issues to mainstream problems such as ocean plastics, and participating in community events to foster a deeper connection with city residents.
  • Sensor technology participants discussed challenges for sensor technology development and application during the breakout session. Key technology development question is what size particle is the most relevant and important to detect. Participants voiced that it would be more important to get the sensor prototype to work for the easiest target for proof-of-concept first (knowing that it will be modifiable later once we have a working prototype). Participants also discussed the benefits of a real-time sensing system and possible commercialization of the technology.

After regrouping, group representatives reported their findings. Closing remarks were subsequently delivered by Yongli Zhang to summarize the meeting results and announce future plans.

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