FGCU team testing for micro-plastics in SWFL waters

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Some can be seen by the naked eye, while others can only be viewed under a microscope. But plastic is polluting our waters—and our bodies.

“We’re driving by pieces of plastic, filaments, everything from your shirts, clothing, broken up just stuff from the road..it’s in everything,” said FGCU student Conner Thompson.

“We’re producing a lot of micro plastic every day whether it’s on your clothes or micro plastics actually deteriorating in the water and breaks down into really tiny pieces, then they get into the food web and eventually we eat that stuff,” added Dr. Serge Thomas, an associate professor at FGCU.

For the first time, Thomas and his student Thompson are testing how much micro plastic is in Estero Bay.

While they are invisible to the naked eye, they linger for more than 400 years, harming the environment over time.

“Eventually you know when you wash your clothes, you know that water will eventually get micro plastics. The water treatment plant is not designed to remove very very small particles from the water,” Thomas said.

The team says they’ve sampled and tested Estero Bay several times, each time finding plastic pollution.

A grant from the Blair Foundation funds this research. Micro plastic research is still relatively new, and FGCU is one of the first in the area to test the Estero River and Bay.

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