By Eric Fleischauer Metro Editor Jan 27, 2019 Updated Jan 27, 2019
A cubic meter of Tennessee River water contains about 17,000 tiny plastic particles, and scientists’ increasing concern about the health effects of those microplastics when ingested by humans has added urgency to recent cleanup efforts.
Tennessee Riverkeeper last week organized a cleanup effort at Dry Branch Creek, a heavily littered waterway that connects to the Tennessee River in Decatur, and a dozen volunteers collected almost a ton of plastic and other materials.
“One of the sources of the microplastic pollution is plastic litter,” said David Whiteside, founder of the nonprofit organization. “This is pollution injury by a thousand cuts. With these cleanups, it’s easy to heal a small cut here and there. We can visibly see the results of cleaning that litter, and that’s satisfying.”