Polyester Clothing Polluting Oceans
The researchers found that plastic debris less than 1 millimeter in diameter are released when polyester clothing is machine washed. Their analyses found that a single wash will release more than 1900 fibers of microplastics per piece of clothing.
Microplastics have been found to be accumulating within our oceans. They contaminate shorelines and bioaccumulate among the various populations of fish and other species in the oceans.
This study, performed by scientists from Ireland, Australia, the UK and Canada, conducted water study tests at 18 shorelines around the world. They found that microplastics were accumulating among these shorelines and contaminating the sea life in those regions.
The study was published in the Environmental Science and Technology.
Other research on microplastics have been conducted by Captain Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. Captain Moore is famous for raising awareness of the “great Pacific garbage patch” – an area of plastic and microplastic accumulation on the Pacific ocean the size of Texas. Further research has found that plastic bags and other plastic materials break down over time and form these microplastic particles, which also bioaccumulate among sea life.
Captain Moore’s research discovered – to the horror of many – that microplastic accumulation in the region outweighed the quantity of zooplankton by a factor of six to one. A visit to the region one year ago found that the microplastic levels have increased by 600%.
Browne MA, Crump P, Niven SJ, Teuten E, Tonkin A, Galloway T, Thompson R. Accumulation of microplastic on shorelines woldwide: sources and sinks. Environ Sci Technol. 2011 Nov 1;45(21):9175-9.