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Study: Your Great Lakes microbrews might come with hint of microplastic

flight of beers
Quinn Dombrowski
Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

We Michiganders love our craft beer. In recent years, small breweries have been popping up everywhere, from big cities to small towns.

But it turns out when you’re drinking that pint of local Great Lakes beer, a delicious malt beverage isn’t all you’re getting. A new study finds there’s a good chance you’re ingesting microplastic fibers.

Mary Kosuth, who teaches at Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis, conducted the study. She joined Stateside to tell us what we need to know about the bits of plastic floating around in our favorite brews.

Kosuth’s study tested brands that use Great Lakes water to make their beer, and also tested the municipal system where those breweries were getting the water. Kosuth found that the municipal water source had far fewer plastic particles than the beer did. Kosuth said that means the microplastics in the beer are likely getting in during the brewing process.

So, why does it matter if these tiny bits of plastic end up inside our bodies? Kosuth said that even if plastic itself is inert, additives or chemicals absorbed from the environment could be harmful to human health.

“We found in marine environments, at least, these plastic particles are very good at absorbing chemicals from the water," Kosuth said. "So things like PCB, DDT, brominated flame retardents, things like these can actually form a coating on the outside of the plastic particles, which means that we would be ingesting higher amounts of that.”

There isn’t a great way to filter out these tiny plastic particles yet, so Kosuth said the best bet is to address the source of the problem: the large amount of plastic humans create and consume.

Listen above for the full conversation.

Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 8 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
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