How Plastic Microfibers From Clothes Threaten The Arctic Ocean

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plastic microfibres

If you love to shop and change your wardrobe often, chances are the tiny particles from your clothing called microfibres have been released into the water and now found their way into the oceans. This is already an established fact by scientists.

However, a recent study by Ocean Wise, a conservation association in Canada, has revealed that the microplastics found from clothing textiles have found their way into the Arctic Ocean. 

The new findings showed that about 92 percent of microplastic pollution based on samples taken across the Arctic Ocean are synthetic fibres such as polyester, and nearly 75 percent of them are from textiles commonly used in athletic leisure clothes, fleeces and synthetic materials often used in fast fashion. 

“The Arctic has long proven to be a barometer of the health of our planet. This remote part of the world faces unprecedented environmental assaults, as climate change and industrial chemicals threaten a way of life for Inuit and other Indigenous and northern communities that rely heavily on seafood and marine mammals for food,” wrote Peter S. Ross, an adjunct professor at Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences in University of British Columbia, in The Conversation.

The research expedition conducted by the scientists expanded across 20,000 kilometres in the Arctic. Ross, who is one of the co-authors of the study, pointed out that the microplastics which are less than five millimeters long, has been identified to be coming from the Atlantic Ocean, and were detected based on the size, shape, color, and polymer identity of the samples. 

Rosss noted that the source of these pollutants could come from textiles, laundry, and municipal wastewater.

“Evidence increasingly shows that tiny synthetic fibres are permeating the Arctic Ocean and finding their way into zooplankton, fish, seabirds and marine mammals,” he stated.

The research, which is considered as the most comprehensive study of microplastics in the Arctic ever undertaken, highlighted that textiles and laundry pollution are threatening the fragile ecosystem of the Arctic Circle, if nothing is done about it. 

Several other studies have already established that microplastics have been permeating not only in soil and water, but also in the air. They were also found not only in animals, but also in fruits and vegetables. These particles were also discovered existing in drinking water, salt, and seafood.