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Wisconsin researchers find microplastics in Boundary Waters

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (AP) — Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire have found microplastics in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of northern Minnesota.

The researchers say they found microplastics — particularly fibers — in water, soil and worms collected this summer.

The biology professor Todd Wellnitz says he and his colleagues found 80 pieces of microplastics in one earthworm alone. And he says microplastics in worms can harm the entire food chain.

Wellnitz tells Wisconsin Public Radio most of the microplastics he and his colleagues are finding are fibers that can shed from synthetic clothing and fabrics. But he says they also can spread by wind, rain and snow.

Wellnitz describes the research as preliminary since he and his colleagues took around 60 samples from a small part of the BWCA. He says the results could provide the foundation for larger future research projects.

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