all about
microplastics

Before we tell you everything you can
do to prevent microplastic pollution,
we’ll tell you all about it first!

what are
microplastics?

Microplastics (which can also be referred to as microfibers) are tiny wicks of cloth that tend to come off of clothing during washes. The microplastics are made out of synthetic materials such as polyester and spandex that are forms of plastic that do not biodegrade.

where do
they go?

  • From the washer, the microfibers go through wastewater systems that fail to filter them out and consequently release them into oceans
  • Fish and other marine organisms then ingest the microplastic particles, which then makes its way up the food chain and eventually into our seafood

 

why is it
a concern?

Environmental Effects

  • Microfibers make up 85% of human-made debris on shorelines around the world [1]
  • Fibers make up the majority (80%) of the debris found in fish and shellfish in the United States [2]

Marine Animal Health Effects

  • When plastics break down, they release persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as polyphenylene ethers (PPEs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethanes DDTs
    • These toxins bioaccumulate and can cause harm
  • These POPs also like to stick to plastic pieces in the ocean
    • Animals then eat these pieces of plastic that are coated in toxins

Human Health Effects

  • Plastic is toxic [3]
  • These small pieces have been found to be the most common item found in fish and shellfish ready for human consumption
Sources

[1] Accumulation of Microplastic on Shorelines Woldwide: Sources and Sinks
Mark Anthony Browne, Phillip Crump, Stewart J. Niven, Emma Teuten, Andrew Tonkin, Tamara Galloway, and Richard Thompson. Environmental Science & Technology 2011 45 (21), 9175-9179. DOI: 10.1021/es201811s

[2] Rochman CM, Tahir A, Williams SL, Baxa DV, Lam R, Miller JT, Teh F-C, Werorilangi S, Teh SJ. 2015. Anthropogenic debris in seafood: Plastic debris and fibers from textiles in fish and bivalves sold for human consumption. Scientific Reports. 5:14340.

[3] https://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/health/case_studies/plastics.html

There are three main ways you can help reduce microplastic pollution in your day-to-day life 

  • Install microplastic filters into your washing machine
  • Be conscious about the types of clothes you buy
  • Let others know about the issue of microplastics

For more information regarding solutions to the microplastic issue, please go to ourSolutions page