Molly DeVore.  January 27, 2023. NWI Times

VALPARAISO — Julie Peller’s phone is filled with photos of plastic trash.

“I’ve got some photos of my grandkids on there too,” the Valparaiso University chemistry professor joked.

Peller discussed her research Monday in a presentation on plastics contamination. Walking along the shores of Lake Michigan, visitors might see grocery bags or old plastic food containers, but Peller said much of Northwest Indiana’s plastic problem is largely invisible.

She held up a plastic vegetable oil bottle filled with water.

“The cloudiness is telling us we have nanoplastics in there,” she explained.

Nanoplastics are less than a micrometer in size — so tiny, they can only be seen under a microscope. While microplastics, defined as 5 millimeters or less, do not mix with water, nanoplastics can. Peller said the small amount of oil remaining in the bottle drew out the tiny plastic particles.

About 30 people crowded into a Valparaiso University classroom for the presentation. Held to discuss plastic pollution, the event was sponsored by the Valparaiso Chain of Lakes Watershed Group.


Peller began her talk by displaying a graph showing that in 1950, the world produced about 2 million metric tons of plastic.

While that number may seem high, it pales in comparison to the 8.3 billion metric tons produced in 2017; if the rate continues, the world is projected to produce 34 billion metric tons in 2050.  [read the full article here]