HomeEducationSustainability EducationSaving Fish and Human Health: Adding a Laundry Filter to Your Washing Machine

Saving Fish and Human Health: Adding a Laundry Filter to Your Washing Machine

 

The first PVC production in the UK was in 1940, but within only seventy years, plastic is now everywhere. In today’s world, microplastic pollution is a significant threat to the marine ecosystem. In a study from Duke University,  Melissa Chernick, a researcher in Hinton’s lab at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment found that “In addition to the fibers that fish eat, hundreds or thousands of microfibers also pass through their gills each day, and we find that this is where much of the damage occurs.”  In fact, the gills are crucial to fish’s survival; they help the fish capture oxygen in the water. However, as a result of the pollution, the fish are experiencing hypoxia, a condition in which the body or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply at the tissue level.

From the human health perspective, once the microplastic enters our food chain, it then violates our health. Microplastic in the human body can cause issues such as hormone disruption and damage to the immune system. 

 

Where does the microplastic come from? 

The degradation of plastic creates microplastic including through activities like washing our clothes. In fact, every load of laundry releases from a few thousand fibers to as much as ten to twelve million microplastic fibers. 

So, how can we do our part in daily life to reduce microplastic pollution?

Here are some tips to incorporate into your laundry practices: 

Design makes a difference

According to this wbur interview, the same materials with different designs can make a difference in microfiber releases. For example, although they are both made of 100% polyester, fleece tends to shed more microfibers than clothing that’s tightly woven. Therefore, avoiding fleeces and loosely knitted clothing can reduce the microfiber pollution. 

Effort while doing the laundry

Currently in the market, there are microfiber filters that prevent the microfibers from going down to the drain. The two common types of filters include: one that washes with the clothes such as Cora Ball, and the other is installed on the washing machine discharge hose. According to the research article, “Microfiber release from real soiled consumer laundry and the impact of fabric care products and washing conditions,” the Lint LUV-R system shows high efficiency compared to the Cora Ball device. The Lint LUV-R system captures about 87% of the microplastic, and the Cora Ball captures about 26%. filter system 

  Cora Ball

 

No matter which filter option you choose, adding this item into your laundry can not only help marine lives, but protects our own health.

Videos about microplastic:

 Microplastics in the ocean: A deep dive on plastic pollution in Monterey Bay

Microplastics are everywhere | Sarah Dudas | TEDxBinghamtonUniversity

Articles used: 

Duke University “,Microplastic fibers linked to respiratory, reproductive changes in fish.”

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200316173516.htm

Hobson, Jeremy,  “Every Time You Wash Clothes, Millions Of Microfibers Are Released Into The Water.” 

https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2019/08/28/microfiber-pollution-ocean

Int J Environ Res Public Health, “A Detailed Review Study on Potential Effects of Microplastics and Additives of Concern on Human Health.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7068600 /

Jain, Aditi, “Microplastics, an invisible danger to human health.”

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/environment/microplastics-an-invisible-danger-to-human-health-65449

Neil J. Lant ,Adam S. Hayward,Madusha M. D. Peththawadu,Kelly J. Sheridan,John R. Dean,

“ Microfiber release from real soiled consumer laundry and the impact of fabric care products and washing conditions.”

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0233332

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