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Report: Microplastics pervasive in Oregon waterways

Rachael McDonald

A report out Monday from an environmental group says tiny bits of plastic have been found in many waterways in the state.

Environment Oregon says it tested 30 rivers and lakes across Oregon and found a detectable amount of microplastics in each one. Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic smaller than a grain of rice. The most common type the organization found is called “microfiber” and is often shed when clothing made of synthetic fibers is washed. says the impact of these plastics on the ecosystem is unclear, but their presence is concerning nonetheless.

“We’re hoping that this report continues to shine a spotlight on the fact that our plastic pollution problem is growing," said Environment Oregon director Celeste Meiffren-Swango. "It’s impacting our most treasured places here in Oregon, and we need to act fast to make sure this problem doesn’t get worse than it already is.”

Meiffren-Swango said one way to help is to install a filter on washing machines to reduce the amount of microfibers that enter the wastewater system. The group is asking Oregon lawmakers to require such filters to be installed on all washing machines sold in the state. But Meiffren-Swango said consumers can also take steps to reduce their use of plastics, such as buying clothes made of all-natural material and re-using plastic containers and bags.

Copyright 2021 KLCC. To see more, visit KLCC.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”