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“The foundation started with a focus on plastic,” explains James, one of Restoring the Lake Depth Foundation’s employees. “We knew about the micro-plastics, toxic petrochemicals, and BPAs that are released as plastic slowly degrades, but glass and aluminum cans weren’t really on our radar.”

After discovering some of the other forms of litter in Lake Tahoe, the foundation began to research their effects. Glass bottles were added to the list due to their potential to contain toxic metals like lead and cadmium. Recently, aluminum and tin cans were added to the list of items to prioritize for removal after RTLDF learned that many cans contain BPA (3). BPA stands for Bisphenol A, and plastic bottles are not the only source! BPA is also used in the linings of aluminum and tin cans, and numerous studies have shown that it can leach into food and water that it comes in contact with (2). BPA is an endocrine disruptor, meaning it can negatively impact the hormonal systems within the body, and this is not limited to humans.

“One study showed that fish exposed to BPA for just one week during embryonic development passed adverse reproductive effects onto their offspring for up to three generations” (1).

“We need to get this stuff out of the lake,” claims James, “Who knows what kind of impact these toxins could have (and may have already had) on the ecosystems in the Lake Tahoe Basin!” Restoring The Lake Depths Foundation brings their efforts – and their robots – to Lake Tahoe daily, retrieving plastic, glass, aluminum, tin, and tires from the depths.

“We want future generations to be able to appreciate this place the way we have,” explains project manager, Scott Fontecchio, “That’s why we’re out here.” Restoring The Lake Depths Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization; donations to the foundation are tax-deductible.

Works Cited

  1. “How Does BPA Affect the Environment?” Kangovou, 7 Jan. 2019,
  2. MacPherson, Rachel. “What Is BPA? The Dangerous Chemical Found in 10% of Canned Foods.” Insider, Insider, 25 Mar. 2020,
  3. Howard, Jacqueline. “Canned Foods Linked to BPA Risk in New Study.” CNN, Cable News Network, 29 June 2016,