About the Microfiber pollution project
Plastic pollution, specifically microplastics, are an emerging concern in marine and freshwater environments. Microplastics (<5 mm) can be produced at the micro-sized scale or through the fragmentation and degradation of larger plastics. Microfibers are plastic fibers that shed from textiles (including carpeting, clothes, cigarette butts, etc.). One of the biggest sources of microfiber pollution is laundry. With each washer and dryer cycle synthetic fibers can make their way into the environment. One study found a single garment can shed up to 2,000 synthetic fibers in the wash! Once in the environment, microfibers can adsorb
harmful lipophilic compounds
including PCBs and DDT.
Microfibers have been found in sediment and water samples taken all over the world. One recent study has found microfibers in as remote places as the Antarctic. Microfibers are also common in household dust and air! It's clear this problem is pervasive and persistent.
Although the effects of microfibers and associated pollutants on aquatic life remains unknown, researchers have found ingested fibers in fish sold at California seafood markets, shellfish, and even in
the smallest zooplankton.
For more on the problem, follow my blog!
Did you know your clothes shed thousands of synthetic fibers during every wash? Did you know those fibers have been found in fish sold for human consumption? Or that microfibers are in the household
dust and air you're breathing?
No? Don't worry, many people (even many eco-warriors) don't know about microfiber pollution! We're here to change that.
The goal of Microfiber Pollution Project is to educate the public on the dangers of microfiber pollution, breakdown the science and share our current understanding of the problem, as well as to highlight everyday solutions to this global problem. You can follow the blog posts on our Home page or through our Tumblr blog.
Have suggestions, questions or stories to share? Use the contact section below or use the Ask Me About Microfiber Pollution
forum on our Tumblr blog.
Sam Athey is a PhD student at the University of Toronto studying microfiber pollution. She started this blog as an effort to educate the public about the problem of microfiber pollution, as well to share and highlight recent research, science, technology and solutions. Her goal is to make everyone aware of this problem and to inspire every day action to
mitigate plastic pollution.
Sam currently serves on the Board of the Plastic Ocean Project as Director of Chapters and Ambassadors. She was one of the founding members and President of the first college chapter of POP. Her leadership and passion for saving the oceans from marine debris helped her initiative the Hope Spot: Hatteras campaign and for her efforts she was awarded the Lumina News 2015
Person of the Year award.
Sam recieved her B.S. with honors and M.Sc. from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she conducted research on microplastic ingestion in marine species. Her current research at U of T (Rochman and Diamond group) involves the investigation of microfiber and chemical loss from clothing in the context of ecotoxicological effects of microfibers in the Great Lakes.
Donate to fight plastic pollution.
You can help fight microfiber plastic pollution by supporting the Plastic Ocean Project, a non-profit whose mission is to combat plastic pollution by promoting education through research, outreach through art and solution through innovation. This non-profit is near and dear to my heart and I would not be studying microfiber pollution or educating the world about this problem if it wasn't for them and the donations of people like you.