Saturday, September 24, 2016

No More Polar Fleece

You may have heard about micro beads, which are little pieces of plastic put into facial cleansers to help exfoliate the skin. Of course, it turns out they get washed down the drain and end up in our water after treatment since they're, you know... plastic. They are already well on their way to being banned.

Unfortunately, it turns out there's a lot more plastic than that washing into the Mississippi and other rivers, and it will be a lot harder to get rid of than those silly micro beads. It comes from Polar fleece, the nice warm fabric many people wear (and even make into blankets and bed sheets).

Polar fleece is made from recycled plastic bottles, you see, which I used to think was a good thing. It's manufactured in America, too. But every time you put your fleece through the wash cycle, it sheds tiny bits of itself and they're ending up at the bottom of the river, where they
absorb toxic chemicals like PCBs and are eaten by fish, mussels and even phytoplankton.

“There have been documented effects on reproduction, growth, hatching rates and liver toxicity,” said Austin Baldwin, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, which conducted the sediment study. “They can get to a size where they can pass through gut walls and cell membranes, into the circulatory system and cause damage.”
 Filtering out the tiny fibers during the water treatment process is cost-prohibitive. That must be some cost, since the alternative (aside from banning the fabrics, which no one has yet mentioned) is to "design fabrics and products so they are biodegradable or don’t fragment." Well, yeah, duh, but what does that cost, and what do we do in the meantime?

No more washing Polar fleece in my household, at least.


Photo by iPowahFX Studio from the Wikimedia Commons.

1 comment:

Gina said...

Good grief! I wonder how much we humans have been ingesting as well?! I don't have much polar fleece clothing. It's warm, but it tends to lose its shape, at least the pieces that I have. Plastic was such a miracle discovery and now we're making another discovery that maybe it's not really worth dying for....