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Environmental Science Associate Professor to Discuss Microplastics and Lake Champlain

Microplastics — those tiny beads that can be found in products like facial scrubs and toothpastes — have come under fire for polluting waterways and lakes.

Dr. Danielle Garneau, associate professor from the Center for Earth and Environmental Science at SUNY Plattsburgh, will address the harmful effects of these particles that are too small to be screened in wastewater treatment at “Microplastic Pollution in the Lake Champlain Food Web” Monday, March 7 at 30 City Hall Place in downtown Plattsburgh. 

“Microplastic pollution is an emerging threat to the integrity of the Lake Champlain food web,” Garneau said. “As top consumers in the food web, humans must understand the ecotoxicological effects of microplastics — fibers, fragments, films, foams, pellets and beads — and be made aware of our contribution to the pollution cycle.”

Connecting the experience of students to such local challenges was the focus of a grant SUNY Plattsburgh recently received from the State University of New York’s Investment and Performance Fund.

A portion of the $250,000 grant will help philosophy and environmental science classes will address the inherent problems caused by microplastics in Lake Champlain, the sixth-largest fresh water lake in the United States. Students will investigate the effects, ways to address the problem, look at ethical considerations and identify ways to increase public awareness.

Garneau’s free lecture, part of the Science@30City series, is one such method of raising awareness. The lecture begins at 5:30 p.m.

“(Even) slight changes in our daily behaviors can make a tremendous impact in reducing this threat for wildlife and our neighbors,” she said.

Upcoming Science@30 City talks include:

—   Assistant Professor Eric Leibensperger from SUNY Plattsburgh’s Center for Earth and Environmental Science, who will present, “Climate Change: What’s Left to Argue?” March 21.

—   Professor Linda Luck from the college’s chemistry department, who will present, “Molecular Gastronomy: The Science Behind Cooking” on April 7.

—  Dr. Dan Milz, also from the Center for Earth and Environmental Science, who will present, “The Science of Prediction Meets the Art of Planning” on April 18.

For more information, contact Dr. Joel Parker, associate professor in biological sciences, at 518-564-5279 or [email protected].

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