What is the impact of plastic waste in the Arkansas River?

TULSA, Okla. — Plastics are an increasing problem threatening the water supply and everything we eat.

FOX23 Meteorologist Brad Carl talked to the director of research and education at the Oklahoma Aquarium to learn about how plastic waste impacts the Arkansas River here in northeast Oklahoma.

Plastics pile up and never fully break down. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates 75% of plastic items never get recycled and it causes big problems for waterways.

“We’re going to start, pun intended, drowning in plastics because we don’t have enough places to deal with them,” said Ann Money of the Oklahoma Aquarium. “We have this flood of plastics that are going straight into our oceans. It’s the equivalent of about a garbage truck worth of plastics every minute. So, if we just continue to produce and produce and produce, we can’t clean it up fast enough.”

Plastics in the River

FOX23 Brad Carl talked to Ann Money of the Oklahoma Aquarium of the impact of plastic waste in the Arkansas River. See the report tonight on FOX23 News at 9:30.

Posted by FOX23 News on Thursday, April 25, 2019

Living in a landlocked state such as Oklahoma doesn’t preclude citizens from the problem. Money said small pieces of plastic are eaten by small fish, then bigger fish, and plastic travels up the food chain to eventually end up on our dinner plates.

“We are most certainly, unfortunately, eating plastics as well. So, there are five trillion pieces of microplastics in the ocean and microplastics are anything smaller than five millimeters. Plastics never ever fully break down. They just get smaller,” Money said.

Money said she has hope people will find new solutions to curb plastic use, now that there is a bigger focus on sustainability.

“I think that we as human beings absolutely have the capacity and the rationality to help fix this problem,” Money said.

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