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Cure for sick freshwater; waste management on land

While marine litter is becoming a global concern, less attention is given to the problem of plastic contamination of rivers and lakes. But in order to clean up the ocean, we have to start on land.

The large amounts of plastic waste that flows around in the ocean is concerning people around the world. Although marine litter is a grave problem, plastic pollution of freshwater ecosystems is an even more pressing issue to deal with. The removal of plastic waste in the ocean is only a temporary solution: If the lakes and rivers are not cleaned up, the waste will continue to travel through the freshwater systems and end up in the sea.

Research shows that most marine litter especially in Asia and Africa comes from rivers and lakes, which carries large amounts of plastic waste due to poor waste management. When rivers and lakes transport waste into the ocean, it is simultaneously threatening the rich ecosystems of freshwaters.

Biology professor Martin Wagner at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) is concerned about the plastic pollution of rivers and lakes: “Rivers are wonderful and complex ecosystems in themselves. We should be just as aware of how plastic pollution affects them,” Wagner said to Gemini Research News.

Wagner and other researchers have written a book on challenges and solutions to pollution of freshwater environments. He hopes that this book can put focus on this pressing issue. Read more about Wagner’s work and pollution of lakes and rivers at Gemini Research News.