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How contaminants like PFAS and microplastics are being tracked in Connecticut

Elizabeth Ellenwood
Elizabeth Ellenwood draws attention to ocean pollution in her artwork, including this photograph, "'Bottle & Can' - Aker Brygge, Oslo Norway 2022."

Microbeads were banned in the U.S. in 2015, but tiny bits of plastic known as microplastics, and another manmade family of chemicals called PFAS, are turning up in our environment and in our bodies. A recent survey conducted by Connecticut Sea Grant identified both materials as "top" contaminants of emerging concern this year.

This hour, we hear about efforts to track PFAS and microplastics in Connecticut. Experts at Connecticut Sea Grant and the State Department of Public Health join us to discuss the prevalence and impact of PFAS; and UConn Professor and Head of UConn's Marine Sciences Department J. Evan Ward touches on microplastics in the Long Island Sound.

Since airing this episode in May, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released several actions and advisories regarding PFAS.

Plus, Elizabeth Ellenwood is an artist from Pawcatuck whose work draws attention to ocean pollution and microplastics. She was recently awarded a Fulbright Research Scholarship and an American Scandinavian Foundation Grant to travel to Norway, where she's working with environmental chemists and marine biologists to produce scientifically-informed photographs focusing on ocean pollution.


  • J. Evan Ward: Professor and Head of Marine Sciences Department, University of Connecticut
  • Sylvain De Guise: Director, Connecticut Sea Grant at UConn Avery Point
  • Lori Mathieu: Drinking Water Section Chief, Connecticut Department of Public Health
  • Elizabeth Ellenwood: Artist

Where We Live is available as a podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Subscribe and never miss an episode.

Cat Pastor contributed to this show which originally aired May 12, 2022.

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Katie is a producer for Connecticut Public Radio's news-talk show 'Where We Live.' She has previously worked for CNN and News 8-WTNH.
Lucy leads Connecticut Public's strategies to deeply connect and build collaborations with community-focused organizations across the state.