SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A Pennsylvania non-profit organization is hoping to raise awareness of an ever-increasing problem in the age of one-use plastics. They wanted to find out how microplastics are affecting our local waterways in unseen ways.
“We could stop creating plastic right now cold turkey, and what’s left in our environment already is going to be polluting it with microplastics for years to come,” said Faran Savitz, a PennEnvironment zero waste advocate.
Faran Savitz with PennEnvironment has been working to inform the public about plastic waste and consumption for several years.
“Plastic doesn’t biodegrade in our environment, it doesn’t go away. It just turns into tinier and tinier pieces of plastic. When they’re about 5 millimeters in any dimension, that’s a microplastic. So about the size of a grain of rice or smaller,” explained Savitz.
These microplastics were found in every waterway they tested two years ago, so they decided to test the 50 cleanest waterways in Pennsylvania over the last year.
“And if they have microplastics too, then the problem goes beyond litter and goes beyond what we can see. It means it’s probably in all our waterways, and sadly we found microplastics everywhere that we tested,” Savitz told Eyewitness News.
The testing included multiple rivers in our area including the Lackawanna and Lehigh Rivers, and Pocono Creek, and this problem isn’t going away soon.
“All these items we just use them for a couple minutes and then we throw them away. As you can see, there isn’t really an away. They’re going to be polluting our environment for hundreds of years if not longer.” said Savitz.
While there isn’t one easy solution, you can help by supporting one-use plastic bans or just by using your voice to raise awareness.
“So if we can get more people making their voices heard, knowing that this is a concern and telling their elected officials. You can get real action to stop these plastics become a problem, for our environment and for our lives,” Savitz explained.
While studies are still being done on the effect of microplastics on the human body, they emphasize that it is a foreign substance that we continue to consume in our food and water.
For a map of the rivers tested, reference the map below.