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What the hell?…Great Lakes awash in plastic beads

Now I’m really pissed. Disappointed, too. Plastic is loose and unconfined, and that is never a good thing.

Plastic - the bane of our existence. Useful purposes, yes, but unmanaged, it's a threat to our water and, eventually, to us.

Plastic – the bane of our existence. Useful purposes, yes, but unmanaged, it’s a threat to our water and, eventually, to us. We just don’t get it.

Researchers are seining in plastic beads – some microscopic in size – afloat in many of the Great Lakes. In a fine bit of reportage from John Flesher of the Associated Press (Google “John Flesher”, “Associated Press,” “plastic litter bits“), microplastic pollution is just the latest environmental disaster to befall the source of nearly one-fifth of the world’s fresh water.

Experts say most of the particulates are too small to be seen but can be seined and scientists are at work now to see if fish are eating the contaminants.

But the AP’s Flesher describes a “smoking gun”: what scientists know and suspect is that among the bits of plastic are small beads, many of which are perfectly round and visible only under a microscope, and are often featured in personal care products “such as facial and body washes and toothpaste.” Some large companies, he reports, “have agreed to phase them out.”

Damn it, can’t humans – you, me, citizens of other nations, companies and manufacturers – do anything right? This just continues to light a fire under me to continue to do what I do. Every bit of plastic scooped up will be an even greater victory. Even though nothing I snare will end up from Lake Michigan to Lake Ontario – and certainly none of it will be these tiny beads – the potential exists for Charlotte, North Carolina flotsam to reach the Catawba River and onward to the Atlantic Ocean where floating plastic often collects in giant masses where it is consumed by birds and fish.

It’s enough to send me for an anti-acid. I hope it’s not in a plastic bottle.

About Dave Bradley (264 Articles)
I was a writer by trade so one would think letters would come easily for me. It is so now, but wasn't always that way. Indeed, the first letter was written the Monday after Ellen started her freshman year in college. For years I've wondered - with no good answers - why I swiveled my office chair toward my computer screen to fire up a word processing document for that first letter. I just don't know. I just did. Perhaps it was the angst of separation or wanting to say things that had gone unsaid at that moment when we parted ways in front of her college dormitory. What was a one-off became habitual. When her brother Reid enrolled in the same college, his name was added to the salutation line. They were kids then and are adults now. No matter. The letter writing habit remains so today. I live in Brevard, North Carolina. I'm well away from where they live and don't see them nearly as often as I'd like. That's why letters, at least to me, fill the void of distance. The pages give me something to say and the space to say it. There is no assurance they read the letters; indeed, I have never asked if they do so. With the pace of their busy lives who could blame them for letting a letter sit unopened? Over time, it has dawned on me that the letters are both communicative - and cathartic. By nature, letters are about the writer; the writer can only write about their situation. Perhaps that is as it should be. It's all about the here and now from one person's perspective.

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