Plastic clothes threaten marine environment

Seas At Risk has been calling for international action at multiple levels in order to respond to this multi-dimensional and multi-sectoral problem and is demanding that marine litter is put on the agenda of next year’s extraordinary UN conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio + 20 as it is otherwise known.



Plastic clothes threaten marine environment

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Dublin, 21st September 2011. Scientists have discovered another unlikely source of microplastics that are plaguing our beaches and seas: Putting clothes made out of synthetic fabrics through the washing machine!

Researchers studying wastewater from domestic washing machines have demonstrated that a single piece of clothing can produce more than 1900 fibres per wash, and forensic evaluation of microplastics in shoreline sediments showed that the proportions of polyester and acrylic fibres used in clothing resembled those found in habitats where sewage is dumped.

Litter in the marine environment has become a shocking global phenomenon. ‘Garbage patches’ have been found in several parts of the world’s oceans and in the Mediterranean scientists estimate there to be around 250 billion pieces of plastic floating in the water. In the North East Atlantic beaches have on average 712 items of litter per 100m of beach and almost all North Sea Fulmars, a bird that feeds exclusively in the marine environment, are found with plastic in their stomachs.

The link made between washing clothes made from synthetic materials and marine litter is a disturbing discovery but one that puts more pressure on local, national and international authorities to act on marine litter.

Seas At Risk has been calling for international action at multiple levels in order to respond to this multi-dimensional and multi-sectoral problem and is demanding that marine litter is put on the agenda of next year’s extraordinary UN conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio + 20 as it is otherwise known.

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Seas At Risk



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