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Home / Science / The largest source of plastic in our fresh water is laundry lint / Boing Boing

The largest source of plastic in our fresh water is laundry lint / Boing Boing



On average, you consume between 74,000 and 121,000 microscopic pieces of plastic every year. Probably much more. Where does it come from? According to Penn State chemist Sherry Mason, 60 percent of the microplastics in our freshwater comes from laundry lint making wastewater treatment plants. From American Scientist:

As we clean our clothing, sheets, and towels, tiny threads-commonly called microfibers-break off and wash away. To better understand how microbeads and microfibers collectively make up microplastics-move through the Great Lakes and other freshwater systems, they have been removed at wastewater treatment plants.

After sampling and analyzing 90 different facilities across the United States, we found that it was a wastewater treatment plant. On average, each wastewater treatment facility is releasing more than four million pieces of microplastic into U.S. Pat. waterways every day: 60 percent fibers, 34 percent beads, and 6 percent films and foams. With 15,000 search engines in continual operation around the United States, microsites of microplastic particles are finding a way through our wastewater from our homes to the fresh water we rely on.

(via Scientific American)


image: Amy / Bunnyfrogs (Flickr)

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David Pescovitz

David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor. On Instagram, he's @pesco.

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