Professor Comments on Pollutants in Cayuga Lake

By Dan Verderosa, June 21, 2019
Ithaca College professor Susan Allen-Gil tells the Ithaca Journal that microplastics pose a potential risk to water quality.

In an Ithaca Journal article about a joint Ithaca College-Cornell University study of pollutants in Cayuga Lake, IC professor Susan Allen-Gil says that the public can take steps to reduce the amount of microplastics in the lake.

“We’re responsible for all the microplastics in the lake in one way or the other,” said Allen-Gil, who teaches in the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences at IC.

The collaborative study between IC, Cornell University, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Ithaca Area Waste Water Treatment Facility found trace amounts of common pharmaceuticals like acetaminophen and pseudoephedrine in Cayuga Lake, as well as microplastics. Microplastics in the water can absorb toxins and potentially find their way into the food chain and drinking water.

While Allen-Gil says that the current level of microplastics doesn’t pose much of a threat to wildlife, the rate of plastic production and use is worrying. “If the rate of microplastic pollution matches the rate of microplastic production,” she told the Journal. “We’re going to see an exponential increase in the number of microplastic particles in Cayuga Lake.”