Advertisement
Sigma-Aldrich
Sigma-Aldrich

Dryer Lint Reaches Oceans

Microscopic fibers shed by your clothes in the wash are making their way to the oceans round the world, where they could harm marine organisms.

By | October 24, 2011

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, JOSHUA SHERURCIJ

The first global look at the distribution of microscopic plastic fibers, called microplastics—shed from your favorite winter fleece, for example—showed that the synthetic lint is more widespread and found in higher quantities than one might have guessed. None of the 18 beaches sampled by the researchers on six continents was lint free, with each cup of sand harboring somewhere between 2 and 31 polyester- or acrylic-based fibers. Beaches near areas with higher population densities contained greater amounts of the synthetic fibers, suggesting that humans are a likely source for the pollution.

The study, published in the 1 November issue of Environmental Science and Technology, also quantified the number of fibers lost in the laundry. A single polyester item, such as a blanket or fleece sweater, can lose hundreds, or even thousands, of fibers per wash. From washing machines and dryers, the fibers can travel through the sewer systems and end up in the world’s oceans.

This could be bad news for marine inhabitants, said study author and ecologist Mark Browne of University College Dublin. Previous work from Browne’s lab, for example, demonstrated that the microplastics can enter the bloodstreams and cells of filter-feeding mussels that consume plastic-ridden waters in the lab. In the real world, the plastics could work their way through the food chain and "end up on our dinner plates," incorporated into seafood, Browne told ScienceNOW. While scientists have yet to secure hard evidence that the fibers are harmful to marine life, Browne suggested that it’s not too soon to start making an effort to keep the fibers from reaching the oceans in the first place.

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You

You

Processing...
Processing...

Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Comments

Avatar of: Apache Ing

Apache Ing

Posts: 1457

October 24, 2011

and a plethora of sox

Avatar of: ecodivergoblue

ecodivergoblue

Posts: 1

October 24, 2011

What should I do with my dryer lint so I can continue to do my part to keep oceans clean?  Is there a program to recycle or reuse dryer lint? 

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

October 24, 2011

and a plethora of sox

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

October 24, 2011

What should I do with my dryer lint so I can continue to do my part to keep oceans clean?  Is there a program to recycle or reuse dryer lint? 

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

October 24, 2011

and a plethora of sox

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

October 24, 2011

What should I do with my dryer lint so I can continue to do my part to keep oceans clean?  Is there a program to recycle or reuse dryer lint? 

Advertisement
Arbor Assays
Arbor Assays

Popular Now

  1. The Mycobiome
    Features The Mycobiome

    The largely overlooked resident fungal community plays a critical role in human health and disease.

  2. Antibody Alternatives
    Features Antibody Alternatives

    Nucleic acid aptamers and protein scaffolds could change the way researchers study biological processes and treat disease.

  3. Holding Their Ground
    Features Holding Their Ground

    To protect the global food supply, scientists want to understand—and enhance—plants’ natural resistance to pathogens.

  4. Circadian Clock and Aging
    Daily News Circadian Clock and Aging

    Whether a critical circadian clock gene is deleted before or after birth impacts the observed aging-related effects in mice.

Advertisement
PDA
PDA
Advertisement
Life Technologies