Pontiac becomes test site for microplastics study by Wayne State researchers
A group of researchers from Wayne State University and environmental nonprofit Reroot Pontiac have been awarded a $929,000 grant to develop a microplastic detecting sensor. Every year 10,000 metric tons of plastic finds its way to the Great Lakes, where instead of decomposing, it will inevitably break down into microplastics — One water bottle can become 10,000 pieces of plastic smaller than five millimeters. Those microplastics eventually make their way into the water supply, from sources like textile fibers in laundry wastewater to microbeads in toothpaste or soap. The three-year-grant, awarded by the Great Lakes Protection Fund, will be used to develop a microplastic sensor and software to detect and analyze microplastics and their sources in the water supply. It will take about a year-and-a-half of development before the sensor is ready for testing, according to Yongli Zhang, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Wayne State University. Zhang has been studying microplastics since 2017 and was the lead writer for the grant. “We need something that can be left on a site or be carried to different locations for testing. Right now, there’s not much of that technology out there in the market,” Zhang said. The five other Wayne State University staff and faculty involved in the project are: Mark Cheng, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Weisong Shi, professor of computer science; Carol Miller, professor of civil and environmental engineering; Donna Kashian, associate professor of biological sciences and Rahul Mitra, assistant professor of organizational communication.
May 10, 2019