Plastic Pollution Expert to Speak on Gannon’s Campus
Posted: March 10, 2017
As part of the yearlong Culture and Climate Change, Gannon
University will present a lecture titled "Perils of Plastic," from
7-8 p.m. March 14 in Room 104 of the Zurn Science Center, 143 W.
Sherri Mason, Ph.D., professor of chemistry and chair of the
department of geology and environmental sciences at the State
University of New York at Fredonia, will discuss how microplastics
have infiltrated our water sources and how the presence of these
plastics affects humans and other life forms.
Microplastics are tiny particles that are added to cosmetic and
personal care items to give them an abrasive property. They can be
found in toothpaste, deodorants, body washes, hand cleansers and
The study of plastic pollution began in the world's oceans and
most notably focused on what an area that has become known as the
Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Freshwater plastic pollution is a
fairly new area of study, but Mason has taken the lead in the field
with her research that revealed high levels of plastic found in
Despite strong evidence that a vast majority of the debris in
the oceans came from land and most likely was transported by
freshwater systems, very little research has been focused on
plastics in freshwater systems.
During the summers of 2012 and 2013, Mason and her team
conducted the first-ever survey for plastic pollution within the
open-waters of the Great Lakes. Her research was the subject of
coverage from the New York Times and NPR to media in Sydney,
Australia. Tuesday's lecture will present the results from the
initial surveys, as well as additional investigations that were a
result of these studies.
The Culture and Climate Change series is a response to "Laudato
Si," Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical letter on climate change, which
was inspired by the canticle written by his namesake, Saint Francis
of Assisi, that "reminds us that our common home is like a sister
with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her
arms to embrace us."