Analyzing Water Quality and Identifying Microfibers in the Lake Michigan Watershed

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Julie Peller


Arts and Sciences

ORCID Identifier(s)


Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-4-2017


Public awareness of the issue concerning microplastics and microfibers in our water systems has slowly increased over the last few years. Since research is still in its preliminary stages, the degree that these artificial residues have on the health of the ecosystem or the health of aquatic species is unknown. In attempts to gather some information about the issue in the local Lake Michigan Watershed, a team of Valparaiso University students began research in the summer of 2015. Macroinvertebrates from various locations in the watershed were collected and analyzed to locate microplastics. Although microplastics were not found, a surprising abundance of microfibers from the digested macroinvertebrates were identified. Even more surprisingly, these microfibers were able to be isolated from only 500 mL of water samples in all tested locations of the watershed. These findings are currently in the process of being quantified to obtain sufficient data describing the extent of the microfiber pollution present in the Lake Michigan Watershed.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Troy Janesheski started this project as summer research during the summer of 2015, and Jessica Hanson picked up the project in the fall of 2016. The project began as a collaboration with local middle school students about water quality and expanded into more intensive research. Troy is a biology and chemistry double major, and Jessica is a chemistry and environmental science double major, leading both to interests in lab work and environmental testing. Troy will be graduating in May 2018 and Jessica in December 2018.

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