A study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology has found that washing machines are a major source of microplastic pollution in the oceans.
Bits of plastic contain potentially harmful ingredients which go into the bodies of animals and could be transferred to people who consume fish. Ingested microplastic can transfer and persist into their cells for months.
The scientists, led by Mark Anthony Browne, a biologist with University College in Dublin, looked for microplastic contamination along 18 coasts around the world and tracked down its likely source.
Much of the clothing people wear today is made with polyester, acrylic, rayon and various other synthetic textile materials. The scientists found that more than 1,900 fibers can rinse off of a single garment during a wash cycle, and these fibers look just like the microplastic debris they found on shorelines.
The authors suggest two possible solutions:
· Washing machine manufacturers should look at ways to reduce the release of fibers into wastewater.
· Research into methods for removing microplastic from sewage.
Another solution is to promote clothing made from natural fibers such as organic cotton, linen, wool, silk and hemp.
Watch AlJazeera report:
Picture by Wahlander