Eastern Lake Ontario Environmental Research Group 2000 (cont'd from eloerg.tripod.com/waupoos)

Toxics in Great Lakes Plastic Pollution, April 2013
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Lake Ontario wind turbines to remain on hold? Feb 2017
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Point O turbines 99% Down the Drain, CCSAGE, July 7, 2016
Point O turbines Dead and Damned, PECFN, July 6, 2016
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Lighthouses of eastern Lake Ontario, new book by Marc Seguin, March 2016
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Valerie Langer: Thirty years of effort pays off on the B.C. coast, Feb 1,2016
Trillium log, 6th annual ELO expedtion, September 2015
Trillium Wind Corp intent on Spoliation of eastern Lake Ontario and Main Duck Isle, June 2015
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Obituaries, Mary Terrance (Luke) Hill, January 2015; Valerie Ingrid (Hill) Kaldes, July 2015
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Trillium Log, 5th annual ELO expedition, September 2014
Planetary public health manifesto, The Lancet, March 2014
Ostrander Bioblitz, butterfly inventory walk, August 10, 2014
Victory at Cape Vincent: British Petroleum withdraws turbine proposal, February 2014
Stay of execution granted by Ontario Court of Appeal, March 2014
Never say die: Will the Court of Appeal let the Ostrander Phoenix fly free again? March 2014
Divisional Court ruling in Ostrander: turtles belly up, Trojan horses win, February 2014
Lafarge 2020, pushing the air envelope again, Hazardous waste as cement kiln fuel proposal, Jan2014
Another fine mess in Port Hope: municipal waste incinerator proposal, January 2014
Ostrander: fiasco, or snafu? you decide, December 2013
Ostrander rises again, Noli illegitimi carborundum, December 2013
British Petroleum backing off Cape Vincent after a decade of aggression? December 2013
Turbines best Bald Eagles in U.S law, December 2013
SARStock 10 years after, letter to editor, August 2003
Trillium log September 2013: Surfin' USA: Hanging Ten in a Hughes 29
ERT Post mortem: Garth Manning lets it all hang out, August 2013
ERT post mortem: Cheryl Anderson lets it all hang out, August 2013
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Great Lakes United turns thirty, goes down, RIP GLU, July 29, 2013
ERT decision, Ostrander turns turtle, goes down, July 3, 2013
PECFN Thankyou, and Appeal for funds, July 6, 2013
Minister of Env on Lake Ontario Off shore wind turbine status, June 2013
Lake Ontario water level control plan, June 2013
Play by Play, Part II, APPEC Ostrander ERT Appeal, June 2013
Ostrander ERT June 2013, Appendix VI, an indirect cause of human morbidity and mortality ?
ELOERG Presentation to Ostrander ERT, Part II, Human Health, May 2013
The Dirty E-Word, Terry Sprague, Picton Gazette, April 2013
Toxics in Great Lakes Plastic Pollution, April 2013
Bill Evans on Birds and Wind farms, April 2013
Mayday, Naval Marine Archive, April 2013
Experimental Lakes Area, Kenora, Closing by Federal Gov't, March 2013
Fishing Lease Phase out on Prince Edward Point, March 2013
Windstream makes $1/2 Billion NAFTA claim, March 2013
Play by Play, PECFN Ostrander ERT Appeal, March 2013
Offshore Wind turbine moratorium 2 years later, The Star, Feb 2013
ELOERG ERT submission on Ostrander: Appendix V: Pushing the Envelope of the MoE SEV, Feb 2013
Wente on Wind and Bald Eagle mugging, Globe and Mail, February 2, 2013
Sprague on Wind and Bald Eagle mugging, Picton Gazette, Jan 25, 2013
Cry Me a River over a Few Bats: Submission to Env Review Tribunal, ELOERG, January 2013
Lake Ontario's Troubled Waters: U of Michigan GLEAM, January 2013
Letter to Minister of Environment re: Ostrander, January 2013
No Balm in Gilead: Ostrander IWT's as Trojan Horses, January 2013
Ostrander Turbines: another Christmas gift by the MoE, Dec 2012
Occupational carcinogens: Ontario Blue Collar breast cancer study, November 2012
Fresh water fish Extinctions, Scientific American,November 2012
Great Lakes Toxics revisited, November 2012
Frack the What ? November 2012
$ 2 1/4 Billion Trillium Power lawsuit knockback Appeal, November 2012
Canada Centre for Inland Waters decimated, October 2012
Birds, Bats, Turbines, and the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, October 2012
Ecological public health, the 21st centurys big idea? British MedicalJournal Sept1,2012
Trillium log, Sept 2012
George Prevost, Saviour of the Canadas, 1812 - 1814. June 2012
The Victory at Picton: Bicentennial Conference on War of 1812-1814, Differing Perspectives, May 2012
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Mr. Kumar and the Super 30, November 2011
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Toxic chemicals turn up in Great Lakes plastic pollution

Apr 9 2013 One Comment
Lorena Rios Mendoza participated last year in the first plastics pollution survey of the Great Lakes.

Lorena Rios Mendoza aboard the tall ship Niagara during last summer’s first plastics pollution survey of the Great Lakes. Image: Courtesy Lorena Rios Mendoz

By Kathiann M. Kowalski

Toxic chemicals clinging to plastics could cause health problems for fish and other organisms in the Great Lakes.

They were discovered in samples from the first-ever Great Lakes plastic survey in Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Lake Superior last summer, Lorena Rios Mendoza, an assistant chemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin – Superior, announced Monday.

And instead of just sitting in sediments as some scientists previously thought, those pollutants might be traveling with plastics to other parts of the Great Lakes.

Rios Mendoza presented the survey results at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting. She and other researchers found from 1,500 to 1.7 million plastic particles per square mile, with the highest counts from Lake Erie. Rios Mendoza’s analysis of the Lake Erie samples found polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, also called polyaromatics or PAHs, at concentrations roughly twice what she found in the Atlantic Ocean. The analysis also revealed polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which she is still analyzing.

Scientists have linked both PAHs and PCBs to human and aquatic health threats.

PAHs and PCBs, as well as organochlorides, are Persistent Organic Pollutants, or POPs.  They can stay in the environment for 50 years or more. They also bioaccumulate—move up the food chain from one organism to another, becoming more concentrated at each level.

Such compounds are hydrophobic—they don’t like being in water. Given a chance, these pollutants cling to plastic particles. Imagine a shipwrecked sailor grabbing a floating board.

Particle size might explain why Lake Erie’s PAH concentrations were higher than those from the Atlantic Ocean. About 85 percent of the Great Lakes samples were microparticles measuring less than two-tenths of an inch down to microscopic levels. “The sizes are smaller in the lakes than in the ocean,” notes Rios Mendoza.

Eighty-five percent of plastic fragments collected were smaller than 0.2 inches--tinier than many insects. Image: Lorena Rios Mendoza

Eighty-five percent of plastic fragments collected were smaller than 0.2 inches–tinier than many insects. Image: Lorena Rios Mendoza

The smaller the particles’ size, the greater the total surface area is and the more pollutants they can collect. “This is why they can concentrate more than a million times from the concentration in the water,” explains Rios Mendoza.

Until now, most POPs in the Great Lakes were found in sediments. But while sediments sink to the bottom, many plastics float.

“Now they can transport all these pollutants and release them in different parts in other organic material,” says Rios Mendoza. “One of my hypotheses will be that plastic is a new source for these pollutants.”

Small size also makes it easier for fish and zooplankton to mistake POP-carrying plastic for food. Eating the particles could thus expose them to toxic chemicals.

PAHs “are the product of incomplete combustion,” notes aquatic toxicologist Peter Landrum of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, who did not work on the study. PAHs are most evident near steel mill coking facilities. They also result from things like burning wood or petroleum products. PCBs were previously used in electric transformers and motors. Congress banned their production in 1979, but they remain in the environment.

“PAHs have been known to cause DNA damage in organisms that accumulate higher levels of them,” notes Michael Carvan, a marine biologist and veterinary expert at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences. DNA damage can cause cancer or physiological impairment.

PCBs can cause cardiac problems, skeletal deformities, and neurological problems.

“In fish, the most sensitive life stage is the embryo and larval fish,” says Carvan, who did not

Lorena Rios Mendoza, an assistant chemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, with students in her lab examine plastics found on the shore of Lake Superior.

Lorena Rios Mendoza, an assistant chemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, with students in her lab examine plastics found on the shore of Lake Superior.

work on Rios Mendoza’s study. Developing fish get the chemicals through mothers’ eggs. Juveniles often dwell in nearshore habitats that provide refuge from predators. Even small health problems can lower their survival odds and reduce fish populations.

Carvan and Landrum say it’s unclear how much new risk POPs on plastic actually present. POPs usually won’t move from sediments to plastics unless they sink or storms stir up a lake.

Also, various Great Lakes fish already have some POPs in their tissues. Plastic particles would need a higher concentration than those tissues before more POPs would move into them. Otherwise, says Landrum, “The fish is not going to really digest those plastic beads.” Then particles and POPs could pass through as poop.

Nonetheless, plastics are mobile. “The plastic materials themselves can travel long distances,” says Olga Lyandres of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, whose Adopt-a-Beach program promotes plastics cleanups along beaches. Movement might spread POPs to more areas.

In any case, eating plastic isn’t good. “If an animal is eating plastic beads instead of what it’s supposed to be eating, then its nutritional requirements are not going to be met,” notes Landrum.

Other scientists who participated in last year’s sampling trip include 5 Gyres Institute’s Stiv Wilson and Carolynn Box, Niagara University’s Bill Edwards, and SUNY – Fredonia’s Sherri Masson. Additional trips this summer will sample water from Lake Ontario and Michigan.

Rios Mendoza also plans to analyze contents of fish stomachs and fish tissue from the Great Lakes. Data could help show how much risk POPs actually present. “We need to continue with the studies,” she says.

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Eastern Lake Ontario Environmental Research Group