Plastic May Kill You In Years To Come

Now that’s a bold statement if ever there was one, and I am sure more than a few people will be wondering what the hell is going on. Well, it would seem that plastic rubbish on our beaches is not the only problem we are facing, for scientists today have made yet another discovery that could have a far reaching effect on mankind, well, our offspring actually. It all revolves around the weekly washing (or daily if you have kids)!

The Weekly Wash – Not So Innocent

A group of scientists have discovered that a new, possibly deadly substance is getting into the environment from our weekly wash. Every day millions of people put their dirty clothes in the washing machine and think no more about it. Its a perfectly normal occurrence, and who thinks about what goes down the drain during the operation. Its just dirty water with some detergent in it, and anyway, the water company takes care of it, right!

From the latest research it seems that is not the end of the story, because, if some of the garments you washed contain man-made fibres i.e. polyester, acrylic, or polyamides (nylon), that water from the washing machine contains so-called ‘microplastics’.

Microfibres – The Hidden Menace

It seems these are tiny fibres of plastic, less than a millimetre long, that detach from this type of garment during the wash cycle, and a single item can lose more than 1,900 fibres per wash. Via the drains and water treatment plants (where applicable) these fibres end up in rivers or the sea where they are being eaten by fish and other creatures. Because they are so small, they even end up in the stomachs of plankton which of course is the main diet of many species of fish and mammals. Naturally, not only fish are contaminated with this fibre, but also land animals that get their water from rivers.

The dangerous part is that their small size allows them to be not only ingested by e.g. the fish, but once in the stomach they enter the bloodstream, and hence the blood of the host. It has been found to accumulate in the cells of fish during research by Dr. Mark Brown of the National Centre For Ecological Analysis ans Synthesis (NCEAS) in The States, and Prof. Richard Thomson from the University of Plymouth in the UK.

By Comparison, A Minor Problem

The team tested seawater from various points around the globe and the sewage outlets of many cities and found that the contamination was strongest near large population centres as you would expect. Testing of water from washing machines proved the link with items of clothing produced using man-made fibres.

It should be obvious that when the fish or animals are contaminated with this plastic, it is already in the food chain. Should it have the same effect on human physiology, i.e. get locked up in our cells, who knows what harm this will cause to our bodies. Whatever happens, it’s a fairly safe bet we have not heard the last of this problem.

Roy

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