In recent years it has been discovered that the synthetic microfibers that come off when we wash our clothes are polluting the water in our oceans, in addition to being assimilated by aquatic organisms.
The alarm has been triggered when a study carried out by the University of California has been published, in which it can be read thaton average 1.7 grams of microfibers are released in each wash. These fibers travel through the drainage system to reach rivers, lakes and oceans.
Themicrofibers Synthetics are very dangerous since they contain toxic substances that are assimilated by animals and bioaccumulate along the trophic chain.
Some textile industries have started manufacturing new fabrics using recycled plastic bottles, which at first glance seems like a great solution. However, in its elaboration the bottles are transformed into millions ofmicrofibers to make garments. The scientific community questions this strategy since this solution is more polluting than leaving the bottle without doing anything.
Themicrofibers They are not only a problem that affects the oceans but also inland waters, according to Abigail Barrows, principal investigator of the Global Microplastics Initiative, which belongs to the Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation group. He has made statements, in which he affirms that in more than2,000 samples analyzed from fresh and marine water, in 90% of them microfibers are present.
In another study, this time by Chelsea Rochman from the University of California, it has shown that fibers from plastic contaminate most of the food we eat daily. Rochman in his work, has analyzed the fish and shellfish that are sold in the markets of Indonesia and the United States.The results indicate that fish from Indonesia contain traces of plastics and those from the United States mostly contain fibers.
Rochman explains that his data reflects that the use of the washing machine is not as common in Indonesia as in the United States as well as the industries that work with synthetic fabrics.
The University of Plymouth also conducted its studies and concluded that more than 700,000 microscopic plastic fibers are released in each washing machine wash cycle, and many of them bypass the scrubbers and reach rivers and oceans. The research team studied what happens when different synthetic materials are washed in domestic washing machines, with different combinations of detergents. The results show that acrylic fabrics are the most polluting, since in each wash they release almost 730,000 particles, five times more than mixed polyester and cotton fabrics and 1.5 times more than polyester.
According to Plymouth research leader Richard Thompson, more work is needed to understand the effect of other factors, such as the duration of washes, the design of the filters in the washing machines or the speed of the spin. Either way, he also states that "the industry needs to think about fabric design to ensure that emissions are minimized."
The harmful effects that microfibers cause are numerous, so it is time for governments and industries to come together to solve the problem and reduce the most abundant waste on the planet. For this, several solutions are being proposed, such as making a washing machine that washes without water, instead using pressurized carbon dioxide or using a ball that is inserted inside the washing machine to attract and capture the fibers that come off the clothes. Always the best solution is to stop using garments made with synthetic fabrics and opt for natural fabrics, in addition to minimizing the use of products made with plastic.
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