Boundary Waters research attracts media attention

| Judith Berthiaume

A UW-Eau Claire research team’s discovery of microplastics in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota has generated a lot of interest, with media from throughout the Midwest, as well as some national media, featuring their work.

Dr. Todd Wellnitz, professor of biology, and a team of student researchers found that microplastics have made their way into the Boundary Waters, a popular wilderness area in northern Minnesota.

Researchers found microplastics in earthworms, water and soil that they collected this summer from sites within the Boundary Waters, which is the most visited wilderness area in the United States.

Plastics that are less than five millimeters in length — about the size of a sesame seed — are known as microplastics. They can come from a variety of sources, including things like synthetic clothing, toothpaste and water bottles.

Significant research has been done on the presence of microplastics in oceans and rivers, but little has been done on plastics in freshwater lakes like those in the Boundary Waters, an area often described as being a pristine wilderness area.

Wellnitz believes his team’s research is the first of its kind in the Boundary Waters.

You can learn more about the UW-Eau Claire research here.

Examples of media coverage include:

Wisconsin Public Radio

WCCO in Minneapolis

U.S. News & World Report

Duluth News Tribune

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Quetico Superior Wilderness News

National Public Radio tweeted a photo and link to the WPR story.

The Associated Press picked up and shared the story, which was then used in numerous media outlets.

Photo caption: UW-Eau Claire students Reed Kostelny (left) and Thomas Adams are part of a research team that found microplastics in earthworms, water and soil in the Boundary Waters.