Change leading research directed by Dr. John Weinstein

Cadets Jerry Higgins and Douglas Karam, accompanied by Dr. John Weinstein, Biology, deploy an experiment to measure how face masks, rubber gloves and hand wipes decompose in the salt marsh behind Inouye Hall on Thursday, October 14, 2021. Credit: Cameron Pollack / The Citadel

Photo above: Cadets Jerry Higgins and Douglas Karam, accompanied by Dr. John Weinstein, Biology, deploy an experiment to measure how face masks, rubber gloves and hand wipes decompose in the salt marsh on Thursday, October 14, 2021.

Internationally noted professor of Biology at The Citadel, John Weinstein, Ph.D., is leading change through ongoing environmental toxicology research into the impacts of degrading plastics, tires, biodegradable plastic (that really isn’t), and now personal protective equipment on waterways and marine life.

The research is conducted by undergraduate cadets and graduate students, in conjunction with funding Weinstein and the college have received from the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, National Science Foundation and other sources.

Several continuing projects are underway, with the most recent being a study into personal protective equipment (PPE) waste and its impacts on sea life, and how such micro plastics in the marine food chain may also impact human health.

John Weinstein

One of the first comprehensive findings from Weinstein’s research earned global attention with evidence proving that plastic refuse in coastal environments breaks down into micro-particles much more rapidly than previously understood, and that the plastic spheres are commonly ingested by tiny grazing sea creatures, eventually killing them or ending up in the food chain.

The work demonstrates that microscopic plastic particles can be just as hazardous to sea life as whole plastic bags and other larger debris, and that beach and marsh clean up sweeps are needed frequently to remove plastic waste as quickly as possible after it enters the salt marsh environment.

News reports and publications

Citadel cadets, professor launch investigation into PPE on Charleston marshes

Citadel professor finds not all plastic is equal in study on decomposition
The Post and Courier

Company accused of polluting ocean with plastic has an ally: SC ports
The State

Degradation of bio-based and biodegradable plastics in a salt marsh habitat: Another potential source of microplastics in coastal waters
Marine Pollution Bulletin

Would you believe that microplastic particles from tires are making their way into our oceans?
@Pattrn (The Weather Channel)

Following up: Thoughts from Dr. John Weinstein after plastics pollution discussions with French leaders and scientists
The Citadel Today

Weinstein research used as reference in Charleston single use plastic bag ban
The Post and Courier

Tires, the plastic polluter you never thought about
National Geographic

The Lowdown: Plastics Research
OHM Radio

Pondering Plastic – Wildlife, Bans and Trash
South Carolina Public Radio

Traces of plastic found in Columbia’s drinking water and rivers: researchers not surprised
The State

Tire particles found in Charleston waterways, researchers say

Diseases form the sea being studied by 3 South Carolina colleges.
The Post and Courier

Tires: An Emerging Threat to Our Waterways, Our Seafood, and Ourselves?
National Resources Defense Council

Car tires and brakes spew harmful microplastics
Science News for Students

Plastics: The Final Straw?
Gimlet Media

Plastic scraps from Charleston Harbor make for trashy art
The Post and Courier

New South Carolina water pollution research from The Citadel points to tires, eco-plastics.
The Post and Courier

The global plastic breakdown: how microplastics are shredding ocean health
Coastal Heritage newsletter

Awash in wastes; Study says tons of plastic in Charleston Harbor
The Post and Courier

Report finds tons of plastic in Charleston Harbor
Washington Times

Plastic bag ban on Isle of Palms has Council support, officials say
The Post and Courier

Trash in the water ends up in the drink; The Citadel studies how much
 The Post and Courier

The problems with plastics in S.C. waters 
The Times and Democrat, from The Post and Courier.

Study says tons of plastic in Charleston Harbor. The Post and Courier and 30+ other news outlets nationwide

Professor John Weinstein at microscope