Comfy Clothing Contributes To Polluted Seas

March 20, 2017
Microfibers shed from clothing are finding their way into the ocean and possibly contaminating seafood.

Researchers studying pollution from plastics in Florida’s coastal waters expected to find microbeads, the brightly colored plastic spheres from rinse-off cosmetics banned in the U.S. in 2015 because of the threat they posed to fish and other wildlife. Instead, according to an article from SFGate, the scientists predominantly found “microfibers” – even smaller shreds of plastic that are used to make fleece jackets, yoga pants, sweat-wicking athletic gear and other items of comfortable clothing.

The microscopic plastic fibers are reportedly shed from garments during laundering and then wastewater systems flush them into natural waterways and eventually out to sea. Washing machine makers may represent the next line of defense in decreasing marine debris, according to the article, perhaps by developing some sort of filter to trap the microfibers. Apparel manufacturer Patagonia is also reportedly supporting research into the prevalence of microfiber pollution and promoting awareness among consumers about ways to minimize microfiber shedding.

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