SOURCE: Canadian Wildlife Federation

Canadian Wildlife Federation

June 09, 2016 08:00 ET

CWF Hosts Online Microplastics Forum for Rivers to Oceans Week

OTTAWA, ON--(Marketwired - June 09, 2016) - The extent of micro plastic pollution in fresh water systems is alarming researchers supported by the Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) now studying the impacts on wildlife in the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries.

"We need to determine the extent to which micro plastics are being ingested by aquatic wildlife and help create regulations, policies and voluntary actions to reduce pollution," said Rick Bates, Acting CEO of CWF.

CWF is hosting an adobe connect webinar on Tuesday, June 14 at 1 pm ET for media and the public to find out more about plastics in our waterways and how they affect wildlife.

"Plastic litter is becoming more common in our lakes and rivers, and may harm unsuspecting fish, birds and other wildlife. Whether big or small, plastic waste is bad news for our waterways and the species that live in them," said Andrea Morden, Microplastics Research Assistant, Ricciardi Lab, Redpath Museum, McGill University.

As part of the Rivers to Oceans Week webinar, Morden will review the types, sources and impacts of plastic pollution in Canadian aquatic ecosystems and describe what we can do to reduce the plastic problem.

To register, e-mail heatherr@cwf-fcf.org.

Backgrounder:

In 2013, Dr. Anthony Ricciardi and his students at McGill University discovered an abundance of polyethylene microbeads in sediment samples taken along a 320-kilometre section of the St. Lawrence River. Prior to this discovery, it was thought that when microplastics reach the St. Lawrence they'd simply float out to the ocean, however we've learned that some of these settle to the bottom of freshwater bodies. This was the first time microplastics had been documented in freshwater sediments and it demonstrated that rivers can act as a sink for these pollutants. Considering both the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River all flow out to the North Atlantic Ocean, it's become apparent that these lakes and rivers are contributing to marine plastic pollution.

New fieldwork, supported by the Canadian Wildlife Federation, is beginning in August, 2016 to determine:

  • The diversity, abundance and sources of microplastics in the sediments and surface waters of the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario and its tributaries
  • The extent to which microplastics are consumed by aquatic animals (fish and mollusks)
  • How patterns of consumption are affected by the composition and concentration of plastics in sediments and water
  • How the presence of these contaminants in lakes and rivers can be monitored accurately and efficiently to evaluate the effectiveness of regulatory efforts

What's your plastic footprint?

CWF is encouraging the public to determine which areas of their homes are the biggest plastics producers and make efforts to improve on problem areas. The focus is on three main zones:

  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • Laundry room

Visit RivertoOceans.ca to find out more about your plastic footprint.

Quick Facts

  • There are an estimated 150-250 million tonnes of plastics in the world's oceans
  • By weight there may be more plastics than fish in the ocean by 2050
  • About 8 million tonnes of plastics enter the world's oceans annually
  • About 90 per cent of sea birds have swallowed plastics
  • Each time you wash synthetic clothing more than 1,900 bits of plastic flow into the sewage system

Visit RiverstoOceans.ca for more information and to get involved.

About the Canadian Wildlife Federation:
The Canadian Wildlife Federation is dedicated to fostering awareness and appreciation of our natural world. By spreading knowledge of human impacts on the environment, sponsoring research, promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, recommending legislative changes and co-operating with like-minded partners, CWF encourages a future in which Canadians can live in harmony with nature. Visit CanadianWildlifeFederation.ca for more information.

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How do plastics in our waterways harm #wildlife? @CWF_FCF webinar on June 14 @ 1 pm ET. Register now. #RiverstoOceans

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