Rhiannon Moore inspects sediment samples she gathered during her time on the Canada C3 trip. (SUBMITTED)

Researcher shares tips to reduce microplastics

Rhiannon Moore spoke about her microplastic research as part of the marine speakers series Oct. 2.

When the Canada C3 ship docked in Prince Rupert — one of many stops during its 150-day voyage around the three coasts of Canada — Rhiannon Moore disembarked. As one of the researchers aboard the refurbished icebreaker, Moore had travelled from Tuktoyaktuk to Prince Rupert on Leg 12 of the trip to collect sediment samples to study.

Once on dryland, Moore presented some of her research on microplastics to a packed room. Her Oct. 2 talk, “Tiny plastics, big issues” was hosted by the Northern Coast Cetacean Research Institute’s popular marine speaker series.

Microplastics are defined as pieces of plastic that are five millimetres or smaller, and can come from cosmetics, clothing fibres shed in a washing machine, and bigger plastics that break in the ocean. Moore compares them to the size of a lentil or smaller.

After the talk, the master’s student, who also works as a research assistant for the Ocean Pollution Research Program at the Vancouver Aquarium, said that microplastics are only recently being studied by scientists. Microplastics aren’t easy to see, but they’re newly considered a contaminant.

“In terms of the ecosystem, the most obvious concern of plastics is that animals become entangled or ingest them, and they’re not a natural food. We’ve seen that animals like seabirds will eat larger pieces of plastic and it fills up their stomach, and then they starve,” Moore said.

“The more insidious thing is when they get to these tinier pieces,” she said, because microplastics will travel through the food chain. Once a small fish consumes microplastic and is eaten in turn, the microplastic may be passed on.

“We’re just at the start of learning what the potential health impacts might be for animals and also for humans,” Moore said.

“It can be a tough subject because there’s no denying that there’s plastic in the ocean. Plastic is something that is definitely there because of us. It’s a topic that everyone can connect with and people of all ages and backgrounds can relate to because we all use plastic.”

While scientists like Moore are trying to analyze the impact of microplastics, she always ends her talks with ways people can help prevent more plastic from winding up in the ocean.

“One of the easiest things is to reduce the amount of single-use plastics. I always say ‘No excuse for single use.’ Those are things you use once or twice and then throw away. Like the lid to a coffee cup: You have your coffee for 10 minutes and then you throw it away and it sits in the landfill for hundreds of years,” she said.

The researcher recommends starting at the grocery store by buying foods with less packaging, and by not using plastic bags to bring groceries home. Next, do a plastic inventory of your bathroom. Bar soaps, instead of liquids that come in plastic bottles, are a simple and cost-effective way to reduce your impact. Finally, Moore suggests wearing natural fibres like cotton, wool and hemp.

“There are so many easy solutions that people can try at home and in their daily life that make a big difference.”

RELATED: One lucky Rupertite to join Canada C3



keili.bartlett@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

New museum exhibit in Prince Rupert to highlight nature’s influence on technology

Travelling exhibit made possible through federal funding via Museums Assistance Program

Rampage ready for new CIHL season

Puck drops Saturday at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre

STORY, PHOTOS & VIDEO: Brand new wrestling mats on display at Charles Hays

Team no longer has to grapple with hard surfacing and soreness thanks to generous donations

Immediate deal to reinstate AMHS in Prince Rupert not out of the question: Mayor Brain

B.C., Alaska officials fail to sign ferry deal in Juneau to reinstate service from Ketchikan

VIDEO: B.C.’s famous cat Grandpa Mason has died

The story of the feral cat that started fostering kittens touched people around the world

Trudeau seeks meeting with Singh to apologize for blackface, brownface photos

‘I will be apologizing to him personally as a racialized Canadian,’ Trudeau said Friday

Charges stayed against Alberta RCMP officer in alleged off-duty Whistler assault

Const. Vernon Hagen instead completed an alternative measures program

VIDEO: Fire destroys Williams Lake strip club targeted by past arson attempts

Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge destroyed by fire, as well as New World Tea and Coffee House

Second bat found at Greater Victoria elementary school tests positive for rabies

Island Health confirms second rabies case, this time in Saanich

B.C. man guilty of first-degree murder in Yukon killing

Edward James Penner, 22, was given the mandatory life sentence for the 2017 slaying of 25-year-old Adam Cormack

Woman stabbed at least five times in Nelson during random attack

Victim is in hospital, suspect is in police custody

Victoria man spots online photo of his totem pole 11 years after it was stolen

Mark Trueman restored the pole himself before it was stolen off of his property in Duncan

‘I’d do it again,’ says B.C. man who swam naked, drunk in Toronto shark tank

David Weaver, of Nelson, was drunk when he went to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto on Oct. 12 2018

Most Read