MADISON, Wis. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Fishing is one of America's most popular pastimes. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service says more than 28-million people will go fresh-water fishing this year, spending billions on fishing lures, lines and poles. But there's a downside -- researchers say 12-thousand tons of those plastic lures end up in lakes and waterways every year. But now, polymer scientists and one savvy fisherman may have the solution.
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Fishing lures. For competitive fishermen like Drew and Derek Frederixon are as much a part of the sport as the rod and reel. But they're hardly indestructible. Drew goes through dozens of bags of lures in a single day. And it all adds up. In fact, more than 12-thousand tons of plastic lures wind up at the bottom of lakes and waterways every year, creating environmental and health hazards. Many lures contain a chemical recently banned from children's toys in California.
"Half of that material are plasticizers are phthalates that are slowly seeping out and defusing out of those fishing lures that are in the rivers," Tim Osswald, Ph.D., polymer scientists at the Polymer Engineering Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, told Ivanhoe.
Some contain chemicals so corrosive they can eat through Styrofoam in less than two days.
Fisherman and entrepreneur Ben Hobbins had an idea. He called on Dr. Osswald and his polymer research team at to help him develop a plastic bait that wouldn't break.
"The mission was to create a soft plastic lure that the fish loved to munch that would not come off," said Hobbins.
They developed a new kind of lure called ironclad. Reinforced from inside with microfibers, it can take 93 pounds of force without breaking. These fishermen say when lures stay on the hook and off the bottom of lakes and waterways, everybody wins.
The Materials Research Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.