Tiny Baubles

Plastic Pollution Flows from Washday to the Sea




A study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology warns that microscopic plastic debris from washing clothes made of synthetic materials like polyester, acrylic and nylon is accumulating in the marine environment and could be entering the food chain. Concentrations were greatest near coastal urban areas.

Up to 1,900 tiny fibers per garment were released with each wash during the study. Earlier research has shown that plastic particles smaller than one millimeter comprise 80 percent of environmental plastic and are being eaten by animals and getting into the food chain.

Mark Browne, Ph.D., an ecologist based at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a member of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, advises, “Once the plastics had been eaten, they transferred from the animals’ stomachs to their circulation system and actually accumulated in their cells.”

The team took samples from 18 beaches around the globe, including sites in Australia, Britain, India, Japan, Oman, the Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa and the United States. They found no sample that did not contain pieces of the microplastic.


Source: BBC

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Migrating Trees

Three-quarters of American tree species have shifted to the West since 1980 due to dryer conditions in the East and changing rainfall patterns.

Plutonium Problem

To safely dispose of 56 million gallons of nuclear waste dating back to the Second World War, the Department of Energy might replace a glass-log encasement plan with a cement option.

Bat Banter

Computer algorithms helped Israeli researchers decode the language of Egyptian fruit bats and discover that bats exchange information about specific problems.

Tuna Turnaround

Levels of toxic mercury in Atlantic Bluefin tuna declined 19 percent between 2004 and 2012, a drop that scientists attribute to a shift from coal to natural gas and renewable energy.

Buzzing RoboBees

Harvard researchers have invented tiny robotic bees that may be able to eventually pollinate the crops that are under threat because of vanishing bee colonies.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags