Lakehead University Student Research to Focus on “Nurdles”
The following article is written by Audrey Nerino, an Honours student in the Department of Geography and the Environment at Lakehead University. Audrey’s research is being supervised by Dr. Rob Stewart. Audrey’s article below lays out the research she will be completing to better quantify the issue of “nurdles,” small plastic beads classified as microplastics under both Canadian and U.S. legislation, which are washing up on beaches across eastern Lake Superior. Audrey also sits on a Lake Superior Microplastics Workgroup focusing on nurdles and comprised of representatives of Lakehead University, Canadian Pacific Railway, Parks Canada and residents from the Rossport area. Thanks from Infosuperior to Audrey for providing the following research overview:
While microplastic pollution has been well-documented in all the world’s oceans, the issue persists closer to home in Lake Superior as well. In 2008, a Canadian Pacific Railway train derailment near Rossport, Ontario, between Wawa and Thunder Bay, caused an unknown quantity of small plastic pellets known as “nurdles” (used to manufacture plastic goods) to be spilled into the lake. Cleanup efforts are ongoing, however with the nurdles being distributed throughout Eastern lake Superior in both Canada and the United States, containing and cleaning them up has proven to be a great challenge. This issue is of concern because microplastic pollution has the potential to adversely affect both the lithosphere and hydrosphere, as well as the organisms that reside in both. The general purpose of this project is to investigate microplastic pollution on the Canadian North Shore of Lake Superior, more specifically, polution caused by the 2008 Canadian Pacific Railway train derailment.