The Citadel

The Military College of South Carolina

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Citadel News Service
2 Jun 2016

Change leading research directed by Dr. John Weinstein

  Dr. John Weinstein in the field for research into plastics and marine life

The head of The Citadel Biology Department, John Weinstein, Ph.D., is leading change through ongoing, collaborative environmental toxicology research related to the impacts of degrading plastics. The research is conducted by undergraduate cadets, in conjunction with funding Weinstein and the college have received from the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium and other sources. Several separate projects are currently underway.

brine shrimp

One of the first components assessed the volume of plastic refuse in the Charleston coastal area. Another examined how tiny brine shrimp respond after ingesting microscopic beads of polypropylene, a type of plastic used in bottle caps and food containers. One of the first comprehensive findings reports from the research proved that plastic refuse in the state's coastal marshlands is breaking down into micro-particles much more rapidly than previously understood, and that the plastic spheres are commonly ingested by tiny grazing sea creatures, eventually killing them.

The work demonstrates that microscopic plastic particles can be just as hazardous to sea life as whole plastic bags and other larger debris, and that beach and marsh clean up sweeps are needed frequently to remove plastic waste as quickly after it enters the salt marsh environment as possible.

Another related research project includes investigating the possible presence of plastic microspheres in commonly consumed beverage liquids that are packaged in plastic bottles.

The research and some of the initial findings have been reported on by journalists in Charleston and in other U.S. cities. One of the articles in The Post and Courier said:

"More than 7 tons of plastic are estimated to be breaking down to microplastics in the tide and waves of Charleston Harbor at any given time, according to a study led by Citadel physiology professor John Weinstein. Sooner or later, a portion of it gets eaten or swallowed and works its way up the food chain. The plastics carry toxins." (The Post and Courier)Environmental plastics pollution research at The Citadel

Read more about the research being conducted by Weinstein and his students at the links below:

The global plastic breakdown: how microplastics are shredding ocean health. Coastal Heritage newsletter.

Awash in wastes; Study says tons of plastic in Charleston Harbor. The Post and Courier.

Report finds tons of plastic in Charleston Harbor. Washington Times.

Plastic bag ban on Isle of Palms has Council support, officials say. The Post and Courier.

The plastic ocean: worldwide pollution drives local research. The Post and Courier.

South Carolina considering law to block bans on plastic bags. The State

Trash in the water ends up in the drink; The Citadel studies how much. The Post and Courier.

The problems with plastics in S.C. waters. The Times and Democrat, from The Post and Courier.

Study says tons of plastic in Charleston Harbor. The Post and Courier and 30+ other news outlets nationwide.

The global plastic breakdown: how microplastics are shredding ocean health. Coastal Heritage.

 

 Cadet checking her research project in marsh near Citadel

 

  

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