EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (AP) — Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire have found microplastics in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of northern Minnesota.

The researchers say they found microplastics — particularly fibers — in water, soil and worms collected this summer.

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Biology professor Todd Wellnitz says they found 80 pieces of microplastics in one earthworm alone. And he says microplastics in worms can impact the entire food chain.

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Wellnitz tells Wisconsin Public Radio most of the microplastics they’re finding are fibers that can shed from synthetic clothing and fabrics. But he says they also can spread by wind, rain and snow.

Wellnitz describes the research as preliminary since they took around 60 samples from a small portion of the BWCA. He says the results could form the basis for larger future research projects.

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