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

In Vitro Corals

Frustrated by vanishing reefs, scientists are fertilizing coral sperm and eggs in labs and returning them to the wild.

Algae Alchemy

Two Dutch designers are processing live algae into material that can be used for 3-D printing of such items as shampoo bottles and trash bins.

Lower Overhead

Cincinnati has purchased 100 percent renewable energy to operate most of its municipal buildings through at least 2021, cutting its utility rates by more than $100,000 annually.

Independent Action

More than 50 mayors from around the globe have signed the Chicago Climate Charter, intended to guide cities toward reaching greenhouse gas emissions reductions similar to those targeted in the Paris climate accord.

Deadly Cargo

The Iranian tanker Sanchi oil spill in the East China Sea has scientists worried about unknown impacts caused by the toxic nature of the ultra-light, highly flammable oil.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags