Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper

Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper director Rachel Bartels holds up a jar containing a sample of the Mississippi River near the Arch in Sept. 2019.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri waters are polluted with microplastics, small pieces of plastic smaller than a pencil eraser. 

Microplastics can come from large pieces of plastic that degrade into smaller pieces and consumer products, like toothpaste and cosmetics, that contain microbeads. While research has shown that plastic pollution can threaten aquatic life, scientists are still trying to understand how microplastics could affect human health. 

Understanding the impact of microplastics starts by knowing how much is in local waters, said Rachel Bartels, co-founder of the nonprofit Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper.