The Arctic is increasingly contaminated by textile microplastics from washing clothes in the washing machine in Europe, the USA and Canada.
L’Arctic it is increasingly contaminated by microplastiche and the fault is above all of the washing of the clothes and the abundant use of washing machines. This is what emerges from a new study, conducted by the Ocean Wise Conservation Association, ready to confirm that the polar ice cap is polluted due to the hygienic habits of Canada, the United States and Europe.
The analysis has in fact allowed to demonstrate how most of the microplastics found in the Arctic derive from synthetic textile fibers. Previous studies have revealed that a single cycle in the washing machine is capable of generating over 700,000 microplastics.
Arctic, microplastics and washing machines
The researchers collected plastic samples from both the Arctic ice and from the waters bordering the polar ice cap, following currents from Europe and North America. From the analysis it emerged that not only the microplastics are present in 96 of the 97 samples collected, but also that 92% of the samples are represented by synthetic textile fibers. Of these, the 73% is polyester, also found 8 meters below the surface of the ocean.
Previous research has shown that microplastics derived from clothes are the most widespread in the world, just think of how Canada and the United States are responsible for the release into the environment of 3,500 tons per year. These pollutants have also been found in unthinkable places, such as the summit of Everest and the depths of the Mariana Trench. So he explained Peter Ross, one of the researchers leading the study:
We are seeing a prevalence of Atlantic contaminants, which are sources of textile fibers that are probably driving Arctic contamination from Europe and North America. […] This is certainly a source of concern, as many populations – such as the Inuit – rely heavily on fish production for their food.
Microplastics have been found mainly from 3 to 8 meters deep, where the phytoplankton, crustaceans, small fish and other organisms that all marine animals eat, thus contaminating the entire food chain.
Erik van Sebille, from Utrecht University, expressed great alarm over the study’s data:
It is impressive how many samples they have been able to collect in such inhospitable places. The results still show that plastic is omnipresent. The question should therefore be: “Where do we not find plastic today?”. It is an atrocity to know that plastic is everywhere, but in the Arctic it could be even more harmful than in other places.
Source: The Guardian
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