The arctic has been trimmed with microplastic. When most people imagine microplastic contamination, they may think of soda bottles, plastic bags, and other trace assortments. However, a new study has found that the lion’s share of microplastic pollution in the Arctic is actually from clothing. According to new research published in the journal Nature Communications, About 92 percent of the microplastic contaminants found in near-surface seawater samples across the Arctic Ocean are artificial fibrous, and about 73 percent of these fibers are thought to originate from polyester clothing and textiles.
Dr. Peter Ross, the lead author of the study, special advisor to Ocean Wise and adjunct professor at Earth, Atmospheric, and Ocean Sciences at the University of British Columbia, said in a statement, “The Arctic Ocean, though far from many of us, has long been a supply – food and livelihood for the Inuit community.”
Dr. Ross adds, “The study again focuses on climate change in the Arctic and the vulnerabilities of pollutants transported from the south. It also provides important baseline data that will guide synthetic fibers as a priority for policymakers in mitigating microplastic pollution in the Earth’s oceans. “
Scientists from the non-profit group Ocean Wise sampled water at six locations in Beaufort, including locations across the European and North American Arctic, including the North Pole, as well as 1,015 meters (3,330 feet) of seawater. They found an average of about 40 microplastic particles per cubic meter throughout the Arctic, although they discovered three times as many microplastic particles in the Eastern Arctic as in the West.
This indicates that polyester fibers are being supplied from the Atlantic to the Eastern Arctic Ocean, the researchers say. Although the Pacific Ocean incorporates microplastic flows, less water is transferred from this ocean to the North Pole than in the Atlantic. Different types of plastics have also been found at different depths, probably an indication of how dense they are.
Most of these fibers have entered the natural environment through laundry and laundry. A study from 2016 found that each household laundry can discharge more than 700,000 microscopic synthetic fibers into the water. The researchers in this new study noted that a single wastewater treatment plant could enter about 21 billion microfiber environments a year. From here they travel to the river system and finally to the sea, where they are transported around the world by ocean currents or atmospheric transport.
Researchers concluded their study by saying that they hoped the growing body of research on microplastic fibers from clothing could bring about some changes for policymakers and manufacturers. Their team is already working with the retail sector, government agencies, and the Arctic Inuit and Involvement community to find some solutions to this growing problem.