Wildlife Over Waste

Survey find microplastics in Pennsylvania’s waterways

We took samples from waterways that are considered among the cleanest and of the highest ecological value in Pennsylvania. They still contained tiny bits of plastic.

Faran Savitz collecting water sample at Aquetong Creek
Faran Savitz | Used by permission
Faran Savitz collecting water sample at Aquetong Creek

Every single stream tested by PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center contains microplastics.

That’s the key finding of a report, released on Oct. 26. Researchers tested 50 water samples across the state for “microplastics” (pieces of plastic smaller than a grain of rice). Every single Exceptional Value (EV), High Quality (HQ), and Class A Cold Water Trout Fishing (Class A) stream we tested was swimming with microplastics.

“Our society’s addiction to single-use plastic products is polluting our waterways and threatening our health,” said PennEnvironment Zero Waste Advocate Faran Savitz. “Pennsylvania communities should act quickly to stem the tide of plastic pollution by passing local bans and other restrictions on bags, polystyrene foam, bottles, utensils and more.”

Advocates with our national network have conducted similar studies, with similarly troubling findings, in Montana and Oregon.

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