Microplastic pollution from Clothes Washing
A new study 'Accumulation of Microplastic on Shorelines Woldwide: Sources and Sinks' has found that synthetic textiles, most notably, polyester, acrylic and nylon are accumulating in the marine environment and thus in marine organisms. The study concludes that the source of this microplastic appears to be from sewage contaminated by textile fibers as a consequence of washing clothes.
Anotherwords, that fleece you just washed, the one made from old soda bottles, is coming apart in the wash, and its minuscule fibers are ending up inside of marine organisms, such as fish. The researchers were surprised to find that a polyester garment can release more than 1,900 fibres per garment, per wash.2 And those fibers are making their way into our food chain.
There is increasing evidence that ingestion of plastic debris has hazardous affects, both large pieces and micro (which constitutes 80% of all plastic in the seas). And it has been proven that plastic that spends time in the sea, has the capacity to absorb large quantities of toxins. In this study, the scientists noted that: "Once the plastics had been eaten, it transferred from [the animals'] stomachs to their circulation system and actually accumulated in their cells."2
98% of Fulmars (a seabird in the gull family) in the North Sea have plastic in their stomachs which can lead to breeding failures and in severe cases cause death. It was found that the average fulmar has 0.34 grams of plastic in its stomach. Size-wise, that would be the same as a person having the quantity of plastic on the right, in their stomachs.3
Annual production of plastic has increased from 5 million tonnes in the 1950s to over 230 million tonnes today.3
Plastics, like diamonds, are forever. Plastic floating in the ocean is the number one source of pollution of the world ocean, and 80% of marine debris comes from urban run-off.
Plastic does not biodegrade, it photo-degrades, or slowly breaks into smaller and smaller pieces, but still remains a polymer. And plastic has been proven to absorb toxins up to one million times background levels in ambient seawater, making the floating plastic a defacto poison pill. Because of their buoyancy and persistance, most of the debris that either entangles sea creatures or found in their stomachs, is made of plastic. Algalita Marine Research Foundation, www.algalita.org or www.plasticdebris.org for detailed information. Produced and filmed by Bill Macdonald.
1) 'Accumulation of Microplastic on Shorelines Woldwide: Sources and Sinks' pubs.acs.org
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