Since the emergence of mass-produced plastics in the 1940s, the global appetite for these materials has skyrocketed. Due to their widespread use and disposal, plastics and microplastics (particles less than 5 mm in size) are everywhere. Although there is evidence of wildlife and human exposure to microplastics, no one really knows if they are harmful. What is known is that they contain co-contaminants (additives and heavy metals) and are extremely persistent.
Many research efforts are currently underway to address questions about microplastics. However, there still is a great deal of work to be done. Join guest presenter John Scott, Senior Chemist at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, whose current research interests include microplastics, emerging contaminants in the environment and utilization of waste materials.