Cooperative Work is Needed Between Textile Scientists and Environmental Scientists to Tackle the Problems of Pollution by Microfibers

Judith S. Weis


It is clear that plastic pollution is a severe problem in the ocean. Photographs document beaches all around the world covered with plastic bottles, bags, straws, etc. (e.g. Gregory 2009, figs 1-3). Billions of pieces of plastic are floating in the oceans. Their effects are also sufficiently well-known: marine animals swallow them or get tangled up in them, which causes many of them to die. Hundreds of scientific reports (Gall and Thompson, 2015; Rochman et al., 2016) demonstrate the many ways in which plastic is maiming and killing marine animals. One particularly insidious form of plastic pollution that does not appear in the pictures is microplastics, which are tiny pieces ranging from a few millimeters in size down to microscopic. Microplastics come from various sources including the breaking-up of larger plastic pieces, pre-production pellets, and microbeads that are added to personal care products for their abrasive qualities. Microbeads have been banned in personal care products in some countries, including the US, Holland and Canada (

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