Microplastics in the Arctic come from our clothes

Microplastics in the Arctic come from our clothes

Violet Field inPlanetJan 18, 2021 2 min read1 views

Of the microplastic fibers found in the Arctic Ocean, 73.3% are polyester and mostly come from our clothing

The planet's seabed is littered with about 14 million tonnes of microplastics from the decomposition of the immense amounts of waste that wash up in the oceans each year, according to the Australian National Research Agency. - CATERS / SIPA
Scientists from Canada's Ocean Wise Conservation Association have conducted research to measure the extent and source of microplastic pollution in the Arctic. Their study, published in the journal Nature on Tuesday, reveals that this pollution is mainly made up of plastic fibers and the vast majority of polyester fibers that come from our clothes, reports Numerama.

As soon as clothes are washed, these synthetic fibers break off and go into wastewater, until they end up in the oceans.

A majority of polyester among the fibers

As part of this study, scientists collected tailings that were between two and eight meters deep from 71 sites in the Arctic Ocean. They also carried out sampling up to 1,000 meters below the surface.

They thus established that this region of the globe was polluted with 40 particles of microplastic per cubic meter. "Polyester accounted for 73% of the total synthetic fibers," the researchers explain.


More and more fine particles

According to their surveys, scientists estimate that these polyester fibers are first present in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean before drifting towards the Arctic with the phenomena of marine and atmospheric currents. During this movement, the fibers keep breaking down into finer and finer particles.