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New York Sea Grant to look at ways to reduce pollution in waterways

Christy Tyler
The New York Sea Grant

The New York Sea Grant will look at ways to keep pollutants out of waterways throughout the state.

A total of $5.2 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will fund research activities to reduce land-based sources of marine debris in rivers and coastal waterways.

Kathy Bunting-Howarth is associate director of the grant. She said the quality of water upstate has a direct impact on Long Island waters.

“Water quality is very important to the Long Island environment and economy," Bunting-Haworth said. "And so, to the extent you can prevent micro-plastics from getting into the water upstream, you’re going to benefit the health of habitats and water quality at your shores.” 

Marine debris includes trash like plastic bags and water bottles, but also micro-plastics that get into the water through storm runoff and using other personal care products.

"Even when you wash your clothes, little particles, little fibers will get dislodged during the washing and drying process, and get out into the environment," Bunting-Haworth said.

There are still a lot of unknowns about the impact of micro-plastics on the environment and human health.

Researchers will look at new technologies to filter them out, as well as trap litter and more.

Bunting-Haworth encourages residents to reduce their plastic use as much as possible.

Sabrina is host and producer of WSHU’s daily podcast After All Things. She also produces the climate podcast Higher Ground and other long-form news and music programs at the station. Sabrina spent two years as a WSHU fellow, working as a reporter and assisting with production of The Full Story.