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Water contamination from microplastics

A recent report reveals that with each wash, synthetic fabrics shed thousands of plastic particles, leading to broad-scale contamination of waterways. It appears like that the water we drink could be contaminated with this plastic. A study of tap water in various countries has found 83% of samples contaminated with plastic fibres.

The report suggests to buy clothes carefully. “Avoid petroleum-based synthetics including polyester and nylon, which are plastics that shed thousands of microfibres when washed. Too small to be trapped by wastewater treatment plants, these microfibres pollute rivers and oceans – as the University of New South Wales ecologist Mark Browne discovered in a landmark 2011 report. He estimated that about 1,900 individual fibres can be rinsed off one synthetic garment each wash, all of which ends up in our waterways.

“Government and industry have been unwilling for many years to support research. To address this problem, my Benign by Design program is testing some of the solutions, but progress has been slowed by a lack of support. Serious questions need to be asked of the government as to why products that cause pollution and contamination are put on the market with little to no safety testing.”

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