Environmental Watch: Micro-plastic fibers from washing clothes showing up in marine environment

January 29, 2012WORLDMicroscopic plastic debris from washing clothes is accumulating in the marine environment and could be entering the food chain, a study has warned. Researchers traced the “micro-plastic” back to synthetic clothes, which released up to 1,900 tiny fibers per garment every time they were washed. Earlier research showed plastic smaller than 1mm were being eaten by animals and getting into the food chain. The findings appeared in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. “Research we had done before… showed that when we looked at all the bits of plastic in the environment, about 80% was made up from smaller bits of plastic,” said co-author Mark Browne, an ecologist now based at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “This really led us to the idea of what sorts of plastic are there and where did they come from.”Dr Browne, a member of the US-based research network National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, said the tiny plastic was a concern because evidence showed that it was making its way into the food chain. “Once the plastics had been eaten, it transferred from [the animals’] stomachs to their circulation system and actually accumulated in their cells,” he told BBC News. In order to identify how widespread the presence of micro-plastic was on shorelines, the team took samples from 18 beaches around the globe, including the UK, India and Singapore. “We found that there was no sample from around the world that did not contain pieces of micro-plastic.”  The smallest fibers could end up causing huge problems worldwide Dr. Browne added: “Most of the plastic seemed to be fibrous. “When we looked at the different types of polymers we were finding, we were finding that polyester, acrylic and polyamides (nylon) were the major ones that we were finding.” The data also showed that the concentration of micro-plastic was greatest in areas near large urban centers. As a result, Dr. Browne his colleague Professor Richard Thompson from the University of Plymouth, UK carried out a number of experiments to see what fibers were contained in the water discharge from washing machines. “We were quite surprised. Some polyester garments released more than 1,900 fibers per garment, per wash,” Dr. Browne observed. “It may not sound like an awful lot, but if that is from a single item from a single wash, it shows how things can build up.” –BBC
contribution Mahati
This entry was posted in Acquatic Ecosystem crash, Civilizations unraveling, Dark Ages, Environmental Threat, Food chain unraveling. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Environmental Watch: Micro-plastic fibers from washing clothes showing up in marine environment

  1. Quebec, Canada says:

    It’s depressing to see how our ‘buy and discard’ mentality has had serious consequences. Bring back washable diapers, glass bottles, etc. Why doesn’t someone take this as an opportunity of give work to people? Take them out on boats and round up this mess!


  2. Mike H says:

    Yeah, like all this report shows is how much doesnt come out in the “wash”…I’d bet money if you measured how much crap comes from cheap Asian labor and pollution controls, you could find some more big time culprits, and not just them!


  3. Rozee young says:

    Maybe this will be a clue in the mystery of Morgellons disease.


  4. Ian says:

    Another reason for the reintroduction of commercial hemp growing.
    Doesn’t need vast amounts of harmful pesticides, longer lasting and more hardwearing than cotton, cultivation replenishes ground nutrients….etc..etc! In fact, hemp derivatives can replace many petro-chemical based products, without the harmful effects on the environment and people living in it. Of course, that explains the reason it is still not allowed to be grown in any quantity, and why it’s cultivation was banned to begin with (it has absolutely nothing to do with “reefer madness” and drugs). The money junkies would prefer to poison the entire planet and everything on it for short term profit (in their lifetime), rather than allow any long term benefit or relinquish control of the vast petro-chemical based con game.


  5. Elizabeth Kellett says:

    Micro fibers are microscopic and can’t be ‘picked up’! so this will not create jobs!… and this is why I buy only natural fiber clothes. We don’t HAVE to buy cheap Asian clothing! and pollutiion controls will not stop this on the individual level… If YOU bought cheap nylon clothing and wash it, YOU are creating this pollution… Stop blaming others and change yourselves! Use clothing made ORGANIC cotton, wool or hemp!


    • Paul Demorest says:

      I detect a microscopic feeling of venom here, some have not the means to purchase all natural fiber clothing and the only alternative in some cases would be the cheap Asian imports, but should we not pull together in trying to change?.
      Great catch Alvin as per normal.


    • Adam says:

      If this report reads the way I read it the fibres are making their way into the food chain EVEN into the cellular make up of the food chain…considering the evaporation/precipitation cycle you could assume these fibres are making their way into organic farming processes as well. How do you get away from that? EVERYONE in fact most unfortunately will not cease using man made fibres. This will continue to build on itself. A logical solution would be some sort of filter or process to capture these fibres to prevent them from exiting into the water supply. I’m not a scientist….but if anyone reading this is there’san idea. 🙂


    • cammac says:

      Nice simple way to look at it, sometimes there’s a bigger picture i.e affordability etc etc..


  6. Man made materials = Man made mess


  7. Caroline Keenan says:

    Like the lady says, blame yourself. You’re the one buying that cheap stuff. By the real stuff, it lasts forever. I have high quality cotton shirts that are 30 years old. And if you want something really nice buy silk.
    The real cuprit here are the large corporations and the collosal oil grab. What percentage of that oil goes into making synthetics? Then they manufacture it in Asia for cheap unionless labour. Then there’s Monsanto and the agriculture grab. Grow more GMO’s to make even more, cheaper plastics?


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