SUNY Oswego students study microplastic pollution in Lake Ontario

OSWEGO, NY —  Two biology students are conducting research to combat pollution in Lake Ontario. Nina House and Scott Minihkeim are working with the U.S. Geological Survey in Oswego to study the impact of microplastics in the environment.

Microplastics are small pellets or beads of plastics that enter Lake Ontario through waste water. These pellets can be found in everything from hygiene products, such as face wash and toothpaste, to fibers from fleece jackets.

House and Minihkeim work on dissecting fish stomachs to find the microplastics.

Over the duration of their research, House and Minihkeim studied over 300 fish and found that only 9 did not contain microplastics in their stomachs.

“As the population increases, there’s going to be more people so there’s going to be more clothes, which is a big source of these fibers,” Minihkeim said.

Despite the problem being identified, House says  without funding they are unable to do anything about the situation.

The students had the opportunity on Wednesday to present their work at Quest, a day of student academic presentations on SUNY Oswego’s campus, to their peers.

Both House and Minihkeim are interested in fields other than environmental research, but agree that the research they are conducting now is important.

The next step for House and Minihkeim is to present their project this May to the International Association of Great Lakes Researchers.