Research and media
UNSW Ecotoxicologist Dr. Mark Browne published 2011 the first research studies on cause and proliferation of microfibre pollution. His research explored the toxic impacts of microplastic on animals and plants.
Mark Browne at al | 2011 – Accumulation of Microplastic on Shorelines Woldwide: Sources and Sinks
Mark Browne at al | 2015 – Linking effects of anthropogenic debris to ecological impacts
The bigger problem? No one wanted to hear about it!
The Guardian | 2011 – Inside the lonely fight against the biggest environmental problem you’ve never heard of
In 2011, an ecologist released an alarming study showing that tiny clothing fibers could be the biggest source of plastic in our oceans.
By now some momentum has been reached. Below find a collection of articles and further research on the topic.
TND | 2 Nov 2022 – University of Queensland study finds viruses hitchhike on microplastics
The study found that more than 98% of the viruses tested were found on polystyrene particles of varying sizes. Over half of the viruses could still be detected 10 days later – much longer than if the virus particles were free-floating in water.
Science | 12 Jun 2020 – Plastic rain in protected areas of the United States.
Most of these plastic particles are synthetic microfibers used for making clothing.
CNN | 8 Jun 2020 – Our laundry is spilling plastics into the ocean.
The Independent | 7 Jun 2020 – Thousands of tonnes of microfibres released into European marine environments every day, research reveals.
Household laundry ‘releasing equivalent of two bin lorries’ of pollution every day.
The Guardian | Sep 2019 – Vicious cycle: delicate wash releases more plastic microfibres.
Study finds 800,000 extra fibres are shed than on standard washing machine setting.
Phys.org | 2018 – Taking on ‘microfiber’ pollution, a laundry room at a time
Innovators are coming up with tools to keep tiny pieces of thread that are discharged with washing machine effluent from reaching marine life. Such “microfibers” are too small to be caught in conventional filters, so they eventually pass through sewage plants, wash out to waterways, and can be eaten or absorbed by marine animals.
Patagonia | 2017 – An Update on Microfiber Pollution
Patagonia works on investigating the emerging issue of ocean pollution from tiny fibers, which often originate from synthetic textiles (such as nylon, acrylic or polyester) that are used in products available to consumers around the world.
Sandra Roos et al | 2017 – Mistra Future Fashion Report – Microplastics shedding from polyester fabrics
This report describes an experimental evaluation of whether the shedding of microplastics from different types of polyester fabric is dependent on construction parameters. Mistra Future Fashion is funded by The Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research, and coordinated by RISE Research Institutes of Sweden.
Damian Carrington | Guardian 2017 – Plastic fibres found in tap water around the world
Tests show billions of people globally are drinking water contaminated by plastic particles, with 83% of samples found to be polluted.
Chris Tyree & Dan Morrison | 2017 Orb – The plastic inside us
Microplastics — tiny plastic fibers and fragments — aren’t just choking the ocean; they have infested the world’s drinking water. Microscopic plastic fibers are flowing out of taps from New York to New Delhi. From the halls of the U.S. Capitol to the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda, women, children, men, and babies are consuming plastic with every glass of water. More than 80 percent of the samples we collected on five continents tested positive for the presence of plastic fibers.
Leah Messinger | 2016 Guardian – How your clothes are poisoning our oceans and food supply
New studies show that alarming numbers of tiny fibers from synthetic fabrics are making their way from your washing machine into aquatic animals.
Rachel Cernansky | 2016 Washington Post – Microfibers are part of the larger problem of microplastic pollution
Microfibers are shed by every garment that is made with synthetic materials and has been put through a washing machine. When the water is expelled from the machine, it goes into wastewater systems and eventually into rivers and oceans, where it has become a major source of concern to environmentalists and marine-life researchers
Roland Geyer et al | 2017 – Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made
As of 2015, approximately 6300 Mt of plastic waste had been generated, around 9% of which had been recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% was accumulated in landfills or the natural environment. If current production and waste management trends continue, roughly 12,000 Mt of plastic waste will be in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050.
Matthew S. Savoca et al | 2017 – Odours from marine plastic debris induce food search behaviours in a forage fish
Plastic pollution is an anthropogenic stressor in marine ecosystems globally. Many species of marine fish (more than 50) ingest plastic debris. Ingested plastic has a variety of lethal and sublethal impacts and can be a route for bioaccumulation of toxic compounds throughout the food web.
Peter Wardrop et al | 2016 – Chemical Pollutants Sorbed to Ingested Microbeads from Personal Care Products Accumulate in Fish
The prevalence of microplastics (<5 mm) in natural environments has become a widely recognized global problem. Microplastics have been shown to sorb chemical pollutants from their surrounding environment, thus raising concern as to their role in the movement of these pollutants through the food chain.
UN Environment Report | 2016 – Marine plastic debris and microplastics: Global lessons and research to inspire action and guide policy change
Chris Wilcox et al | 2015 – Threat of plastic pollution to seabirds is global, pervasive, and increasing
Plastic pollution in the ocean is a rapidly emerging global environmental concern, with high concentrations (up to 580,000 pieces per km2) and a global distribution, driven by exponentially increasing production.
Chelsea M. Rochman et al | 2015 – Anthropogenic debris in seafood: Plastic debris and fibers from textiles in fish and bivalves sold for human consumption
National Geographic | The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Pacific Trash Vortex – A soupy collection of marine debris—mostly plastics.
Pennsylvania State University | 2017 – New biomaterial could replace plastic laminates, greatly reduce pollution
Completely compostable, the material — a polysaccharide polyelectrolyte complex — is comprised of nearly equal parts of treated cellulose pulp from wood or cotton, and chitosan, which is derived from chitin — the primary ingredient in the exoskeletons of arthropods and crustaceans. The main source of chitin is the mountains of leftover shells from lobsters, crabs and shrimp consumed by humans.