League to Save Lake Tahoe clean up photo

Lake Tahoe has higher concentration of microplastics than ocean trash heap

(LA Times July 14, 2023)

Sparkling Lake Tahoe may appear pristine, but its blue surface waters contain microplastic concentrations higher than those observed in ocean gyres — systems of ocean currents notorious for accumulating plastic waste — according to new research.

The study, published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature, revealed that of the 38 lakes and reservoirs sampled across 23 countries, Lake Tahoe contained the third-highest concentration of microplastics. (View Study pdf)

Researchers first reported microplastics in Lake Tahoe in 2019 — a disappointing discovery about the lake, which straddles California and Nevada. Decades of conservation efforts and legal protections have worked to preserve the lake and its 72 miles of shoreline.

The team behind the new study, led by Veronica Nava, a postdoctoral scholar from the University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy, recorded plastics concentrations more than three times higher than those sampled using a similar method in the North Atlantic subtropical gyre.

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