A Snapshot of Microfiber Pollution: Tampa, Florida

Tampa’s Microfiber Profile…a sobering look at the realities of plastic in our planet’s most plentiful – and most polluted – resource. 

The exact number of plastic particles floating in oceans, lakes, and streams around the world can’t possibly be known. Trillions. Each of these particles are from man-made fabrics and materials. None of them are breaking down.

For just a snapshot of the micro-plastics issue that’s facing our globe, look at Tampa Bay. Here, in this relatively small sampling of ocean water, researchers have discovered 4 billion plastic particles floating back and forth. The majority of these pollutants are fibers that originated in fishing line and nets as well as in synthetic clothing (materials like polyester). The estimate of materials within Tampa Bay is based upon samples taken from several feet below the water’s surface. It doesn’t account for more buoyant particles and it doesn’t speak to areas just outside the immediate area or samples of water from deeper in the ocean.

While it may seem logical and prudent to try to remove these particles from our waterways, history, technology, and experience is showing us that the pieces are far too many over a space far too vast. Given existing resources and technology, removing these particles is not a feasible option. Even a massive, dedicated undertaking will yield very little in terms of measurable results or improvements in the condition of water. Micro-particles of plastic and manmade fibers that are 5 mm in length or smaller have been discovered as far away as the Arctic, and many of these pieces will be in our water for more than a lifetime. With trillions of them being introduced into our ecosystem daily, and with not real way to remove them, our options to address this problem are limited.

Kinsley McEachern, the author of the Tampa Bay study and a Environmental Science and Policy student, noted that, ”Only by removing the sources of plastics and micro-plastic particles can we successfully decrease the potential risks of plastics in the marine environment.”

The solution is in stopping the pollution where it starts. We must engineer solutions that stop the microfibers from ever entering our ecosystem. If we can do that, and if we can begin to generate movements that cause us to cut back on plastic use and allow us to rethink how we dispose of it, we can begin to see changes in the years to come.

Check out what Filtrol is doing to put the brakes on microfiber pollution, check out .