Microfibres are polluting our drinking water

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Picture of By Julia Abelsohn

By Julia Abelsohn

Are you drinking your clothes?

Most of us have heard of microplastics or microbeads that are washing up in our oceans, lakes and streams, impacting our sea life and polluting our water table. But what are microfibres and why are they showing up in our drinking water?

Most of us wear synthetic fabrics like polyester every day. Our dress shirts, yoga pants, fleeces and even underwear are often made of synthetic materials that are actually plastic. Strands of plastic that shed off fabrics like polyester, nylon and acrylic are causing 16 times more ocean plastic pollution than microbeads from cosmetics. It is estimated that microfibres account for 500,000 tons of plastic every year and they end up in our water. These tiny fibres make up 85 per cent of human debris on shorelines across the globe, according to a 2011 study

How do microfibres pollute?

When they’re washed, fabrics like polyester, nylon and acrylic release tiny plastic strands called microfibers that flow down our drains. These fibres are so tiny that they flow through water treatment plants and out into our rivers, lakes and oceans. These synthetic fibres are forming a thick soup that is choking our oceans. They’re even showing up in bottled water. They’re showing up in our food as well; everything from muscles, to table salt to honey to beer. For more information on how microfibres are polluting our oceans check out:

Microfibres in our water and health impacts

And then there is the larger question: Are these tiny synthetic fibres harmful to humans and wildlife? Although the studies are in their early days it’s pretty clear to see what direction they are heading. Gregg Treinish, founder and executive director of the non-profit Adventure Scientists, has a different take. “If you’re eating fish, you’re eating plastic,” Treinish says. “There’s no proven causal relationship with health issues, but I don’t want to spend the next 50 years eating it and then learn I shouldn’t have been.

Microfibres and the dirty little secret behind cleaning our clothes

So how do these tiny strands of plastic leap from our synthetic clothing and into our water table? One of the biggest and most pernicious contributors to aquatic plastic pollution is simply washing our everyday clothing. 

California-based clothing company Patagonia, popular for its microfibre-containing vests pullovers and jackets, has started to partner with research groups to get to the bottom of how these fibers might be affecting both wildlife and human health. Last year, the company worked with a research group led by Patricia Holden, a professor of environmental microbiology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, on a study to quantify microfibre release in washing machines:

The group ran both name brand and off-brand polyester fleece jackets through the wash without detergent to get a handle on the mass of microfibres shed each time.

The results, published in September of last year in Environmental Science and Technology, were remarkable. Each wash of a jacket shed microfibers up to 2 grams. (For reference, a paperclip weighs 1.5 grams.) Also, each fleece jacket released seven times more fibres when washed in a top-load washing machine than a front-load.

What can I do?

It’s great as individuals to take steps to try and solve this problem, but what can we do? Is the answer to stop buying synthetic clothes altogether and wear only natural fibres like cotton, wool and hemp? Some other suggestions are to wash synthetic clothing less or to use the Guppy Friend, http://guppyfriend.com/en/

a mesh bag created by a German duo that purports to capture fibers from the clothes washed in them. Or, an even simpler solution is to wash your clothes less often, especially fleece clothing. But these solutions as only a drop in the bucket and would require everyone to come on board to make changes. Sounds good but maybe not too realistic?

Other solutions

Some have proposed built-in washing machine filters—adopted universally on a volunteer basis or by law—that would capture fibers during the wash, similar to a lint filter in a drying machine. Washing machine manufacturers have expressed both technical and political concerns about these proposals: would filters fine enough to capture fibers be able to efficiently process wastewater and, more to the point, should they be financially responsible for fixing the problem in the first place. 

Wastewater facilities

Another idea is to upgrade our wastewater treatment facilities, most of which are currently unable to filter out all microplastics, including microfibers, prior to releasing water back into the environment. Not only would this be a massive technical and costly undertaking and would taxpayers pick up the tab for such an endeavor?

Whose responsibility is it?

We wear the clothes and could resort to boycotting any synthetic clothing, but ultimately who is responsible for the clothing? Producers should have the main responsibility to deal with their products’ impacts. Some companies have already begun to look at things like alternative material designs or fabric coatings, but unfortunately too many clothing companies have their heads stuck in the sand. Even though we’ve known about microfibre pollution for at least five years, some haven’t even publicly admitted that their products pollute. 

If you want to take action to put pressure on manufacturers of clothing brands to publicly acknowledge the seriousness of the pollution threat that microfibres pose, commit to investments of time and resources to investigate and test potential solutions and share what they learn with each other and the public, you can Sign the petition:


Buy a good water filtration system

We are all concerned about the many pollutants in our drinking water. Now, a with the recent studies on tap water samples from around the world revealing disturbingly high levels of plastic fibers that have been shown to absorb toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other illnesses.

Best Water filtration systems remove from 5 microns to as small as .1 microns of fibres. Since most of the fibres are 10 microns in size, our filters completely remove plastic fibres from your tap water. 

Our new line of ionizers not only filter your water to the highest degree, they infuse hydrogen into it. Molecular hydrogen is a powerful anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and alkalizer that has been studied to be effective for a number of health issues. Molecular hydrogen is a medical leap that is going to help many people.

Molecular Hydrogen is the chemical formula H2. It is actually the H in H2O – so it’s already part of the chemistry of water.

It is the smallest molecule in the universe, about the size of oxygen. Molecular Hydrogen can rapidly diffuse deep into all the human body cells and mitochondria, as well as easily pass through the blood brain barrier.

So what will H2 water do for me?

Human, animal, and cell studies show that this hydrogen exerts beneficial effects via three primary methods.

  • Instantaneously converts the toxic hydroxil radicals in your body to water
  • Maintains the homeostatic levels of our body’s own antioxidants
  • Has a beneficial effect on cell signaling, cell metabolism, and gene expression, which gives it anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, and anti-aging effects.

You might be wondering, it acts like an anti-oxidant, is anti-inflammatory and has anti-aging effects but I thought hydrogenation was bad for me? What about hydrogenated margarine?

Infusing hydrogen into water is very different from hydrogenating margarine. “To be very clear about this, H2 molecular hydrogen gas is not a foreign substance,” says Tyler LeBaron, founder of the Molecular Hydrogen Institute (MHI), and one of the foremost authorities in the science of hydration. “In fact, after a fiber-rich meal our gut bacteria produces a large amount of this hydrogen gas which diffuses into the blood and exerts many beneficial effects which is another reason why your Mom was right and told you to, ‘Eat your vegetables because they are good for you.’”

So how do I get this hydrogen infused water?

Ask about Best Water Ionizers. They are affordable and beneficial in many ways.

PubMed has many research articles by the scientific medical community on hydrogen water or you can visit Molecular Hydrogen Institute to learn more. Notable publications like the Journals Nature and Science have also published research on hydrogen gas.

There’s more at: Scientist Explains Benefits of Hydrogen Rich Alkaline Water http://www.healthalkaline.com/scientist-explains-benefits-of-hydrogen-rich-alkaline-water/#ixzz4MzQRHVQO

There’s never been a better reason to buy a high quality water ionizer and filtration system. Call us and speak to one of our water specialists for more information:. http://www.waterionizer.org

Spread the word

Don’t be afraid to spread the word! Tell your friends and family about microplastics and what they can do about it. Educate your children about the positive impact they can have on the environment by taking simple steps.  Buy a water filtration system as a gift for your family or friends. Check out our many water filtration systems to fit every budget at: waterionizer.org or give us a call and speak to one of our water specialists at: 1-877-771-19425

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Picture of Julia Abelsohn

Julia Abelsohn

Julia Abelsohn is a writer, editor and clinical aromatherapist. She has been sharing her expertise and passion for health and wellness for over 25 years. When not at her desk she can be found exploring the many trails and green spaces near her home in Edmonton, Alberta.

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