​Microplastics: A Microscopic Problem of Epic Proportions

Microplastic Pollution. It’s a conversation that’s gaining momentum. With a greater emphasis on social responsibility and with more ways for normal, everyday people to make a difference in very practical ways, the issue of microfiber pollution is becoming more commonly known and more frequently discussed. From considering what efforts we can make to slow down plastic’s snowballing effects to looking for solutions that will address the problem in practical ways, the microplastic conversation is taking place around the globe.

So What Is Plastic Pollution?

We’re not talking about milk jugs floating down the  Cuyahoga  or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. We’re not addressing the massive problem that plastic grocery bags are to our ecosystem or the issues that plastic water bottles are having in countries having water crises. Though these are all legitimate issues that need to be addressed.

The plastic pollution that we’re talking about here is microscopic in size and massive in impact. It’s small enough that it looks harmless (and has subsequently been dismissed as inconsequential for decades). But now, with more research and more conversations being led by environmental enthusiasts as well as by business owners, politicians, and entrepreneurs, microfibers are being seen as a credible threat to our ecosystem.

Microscopic pieces of plastic are being found everywhere you can imagine. From the top of the Rocky Mountains to the depths of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. From the fish you catch in the river to the pint of India Pale Ale at your dinner table. Plastic is found in the food you’re eating and in the water you’re drinking. It’s everywhere.

What’s Causing Plastic Pollution?

Much of what is described as innovation or progressive movements in modern manufacturing is exacerbating the microplastic pollution problem that needs to be addressed. When plastics are recycled, they’re often re-engineered to be used for many common household items, including that shirt that you’re wearing. 60% of our fabrics are actually made of plastic.

The synthetic fibers we wear regularly shed with every wash. Every load of laundry dumps tens—even hundreds—of thousands of these microscopic particles into the wastewater that leaves your home. The particles are small enough to pass by filtration and treatment processes and end up spit back into our ecosystem. And because they’re plastic, they don’t go away. Ever.

The problem goes beyond our fabrics. Plastics are found in everyday, household cleaners. They’re in cosmetics and soaps. They’re manufactured by the wonders of modern technology. But they don’t go away and have found their way in every corner of our world. 

So How Bad is It?

This is a bigger conversation than a few statistics or some pictures of plastic-ridden water, and it’s one that we at Filtrol are excited to be part of. According to great organizations like  oceana.org, “An estimated 17.6 billion pounds of plastic leaks into the marine environment from land-based sources every year—this is roughly equivalent to dumping a garbage truck full of plastic into the oceans every minute.” 

The conversations that are happening can help you find ways to make a significant difference for the problem. And as the conversation continues, do everything you can to stay informed of the problem that’s facing us and to stay aware of the solutions that are available to us. Some solutions start with the kinds of clothes you buy or the kinds of soaps you use. Some solutions involve changing the way you live or simply educating yourself about the products you’re using. All of the solutions are aiming to face a massively impacting microscopic problem. 

Lint Traps and Code Compliance for Your Washing Machine

When is a lint trap required by code?

The uniform plumbing code (UPC) or international plumbing code (IPC) is enforced in almost every state in the US. This code is commonly used because it creates a consistent set of rules and regulations across state lines. Each state can have slight variations and can choose to be more restrictive, so it’s important to verify code requirements for your state or local jurisdiction.

The lint interceptor requirement is found under UPC 1003.6.It states that a clothing washing machine must discharge into an interceptor to remove particles larger than ½” prior to discharging to a public sewer system. Most states require washing machine lint traps or interceptors for commercial buildings or multi-dwelling properties such as assisted living facilities or apartment complexes. Individual homes or dwellings are not required by code to have a lint trap, though it is highly recommend.

The Filtrol has been used successfully in many commercial properties to meet the UPC 1003.6 code requirements for lint filtration. The Filtrol far surpasses the code requirement of filtering down to ½”. It uses a reusable, easy-to-maintain 100-micron filter media which removes the majority of contaminates from your washing machine discharge.

For assistance with approvals using the Filtrol in your next building project, contact us.

Commercial Laundry Filtration

Finding An After Market Solution to Meet Compliance Standards

For places with in-house, on-site commercial laundry facilities — places like hospitals, hotels, food service companies, and hair salons — a lint interceptor may be a requirement in order to maintain compliance. However, with the many brands and styles of commercial washing machines available on the market, and with the variation in washing methods, purposes, and frequencies, there are no one-size fits-all lint interceptors coming standard from the manufacturers. This means that it’s up to business owners and facility managers to find the filtration solution that will work for their laundry.

Do Your Homework 

When choosing a filtration system for your laundry facility, it’s important to do your research. You must know the volume and frequency of washing. You must know the types of material you’ll be putting into your machine and how prone that material is to shedding.

Lint interceptors can be installed in or below floor level or above ground, if your plumbing allows. When installing, place the lint trap in an accessible location for ongoing maintenance will be very important as well.

Check with your local inspector or plumber to make sure that the lint interceptor you choose to install meets the plumbing code requirements, as each jurisdiction has different requirements.

Aftermarket Washing Machine Filters

A Simple Solution to Microfiber Pollution

Washing machine filters are not currently required by washing machine manufacturers, which is why few brands offer them. The washing machines sold on the market that do have filters pre-installed are doing very little to catch lint or microfibers before they enter our ecosystem. Instead, these filters are in place to protect the washing machine discharge pump from sucking up large items like strings and buttons. The lint and microfibers within the washer’s waste water is discharged from the machine and enters our lakes, rivers, streams, wildlife, and food.

This process accounts for much of the microfiber pollution in our ecosystem.

Filtrol has been manufacturing an inline, after-market lint filter for over 15 years. This aftermarket washing machine filter installs in less than 15 minutes on your washing machine discharge hose. A wall mounting bracket secures the filter in place on a nearby wall and gravity does the rest. The 100 micron filter bag inside the Filtrol canister has been proven to remove up to 89% of microfibers released by your washing machine.

These filters are known to reduce drain line plugging from lint, prevent clogging your septic system, and reduce your impact on the environment by drastically reducing the amount of microfibers that are released into waterways.

The Filtrol is a simple step forward in solving the issues caused by microfiber. For more information and to learn more, check out the Filtrol overview video

Plastic: A Global Issue. A Personal Cause.

Plastic isn’t going away, and its effects are still being discovered. Unfortunately, because plastic is cheap to manufacture, it’s often considered disposable. And because it’s considered disposable, people aren’t conscientious with their use of it.

The biggest problem we are facing with plastic is the fact that, despite its many conveniences, it does not biodegrade. It’s a permanent fixture in our ecosystem and a threat to aquatic organisms.

Microfiber & Micro-Plastic Pollution

This type of pollution consists of microplastics that measure less than 5 millimeters in length. They come from soaps, synthetic clothing and textiles, Styrofoam™, and degraded pieces of plastic litter such as bottles and bags. They often enter our ecosystem as part of larger pieces of plastic, and then break off into microscopic chunks. These tiny pollutants never actually break down, but remain in our lakes, rivers, and streams. They are eventually consumed by aquatic life.

From the smallest plankton to larger fish and birds, these plastics are consumed from the water and often become lodged in the organism’s stomach or digestive tract.

To address the problem, environmentalists, eco-conscious organizations, and entrepreneurs across the globe have developed solutions. They’ve invented. They’ve created. They’ve innovated. They’ve done whatever they can do to make a difference for our ecosystem. Read the full article from NPR here

To learn more about what Filtrol is doing to combat plastic pollution through laundry, join the conversation!

Plastic Pollution is Everywhere

A Look at the Impact of Microplastics on Our Health and Our Ecosystem

The World Health Organization recently conducted an exhaustive study to research the health impacts of microplastics in drinking water for humans. The results are in, and the effects are…inconclusive. It’s too early to tell what exactly the impact of plastic is on our bodies. 

But consider this: In a collection of 50 studies where scientists were able to find microplastics in fresh water, drinking water, or waste water, some counted thousands of microplastics in every liter of drinking water.

While the long-term effects of plastic on our health has yet to be determined, the impacts on our planet can already be measured. Countless numbers of these particles are found in our planet’s ecosystem, and trillions of them are found in our water supplies. And since plastic never actually goes away, but simply breaks down into smaller and smaller (and more and more difficult to detect) particles, the problem isn’t going away.

Read more from Medical News Today about the World Health Organization study by clicking here

Did You Know…

The average family’s laundry produces enough plastic annually to produce 100 water bottles. 100 water bottles-worth of plastic is washing out of the synthetic fibers of your wardrobe!

Some Unsettling Data on Microfiber Pollution

Microfiber Pollution: The Numbers are In

Microfibers make up the majority of microplastic pollution. They come from the plastic-based fabrics that we use (like polyester and fleece) and hundreds of thousands of them can shed in your wash in a single use. And with an increase in awareness around the problems that are emerging from microfiber pollution, the problem is becoming more difficult to ignore. With each day that passes, with each new piece of fabric that is manufactured and then washed, the problem grows.

Check out some of these unsettling estimates about Microfiber Pollution:

Microfibers have been found in water, soil samples, plant life, and even the atmosphere. Since plastic is still a relatively new invention, the long-term affects of microfiber pollution can’t be entirely known at this point. Learn more about the research that’s been done to identify its impact on ecology within the Rochman Labs microfiber policy briefing: https://rochmanlab.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/microfiber-policy-brief-2019.pdf

Each year, it’s estimated that more than 2 million tons of microfiber plastics are released into the ocean. That’s 4.4 billion tons! Further, it’s estimated that 1.5 million trillion of microfiber is currently in the oceans. Read more at ScienceDirect.comhttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0025326X19300451

While we don’t yet know the long-term impact of plastic pollution on humans, the impact on animal and marine life has been documented. Upon ingestion and absorption, the plastic can transfer to their tissue and cause gut impaction, hormone disruption, and liver damage. Read more at the Story of Stuff’s website. https://storyofstuff.org/uncategorized/the-story-of-microfibers-faqs/

We could go on and on. The facts are out there. The details are grim.

But that’s not the end of the story. There are movements happening across the globe to slow down the trends, to repair the damage that’s been done. At Filtrol, we’re honored to be part of the solution to put an end to this massive, microscopic problem. Find out more about who we are and what we’re doing, click here.

What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch…It’s Much Smaller (and Much Bigger) than You Might Think. 

Many of us have heard stories about a floating island of garbage and plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean. Some of us have Googled it. The exact specifics of this floating mass of filth vary depending on a variety of different things. Its size is currently estimated to be twice the size of Texas…which is 1.6 million square kilometers (about 618,000 square miles). Its mass is probably a bit more troubling, as researchers are considering the possibility that there could be up to 16 times more plastic in this floating heap of trash than previously thought. This means that, just like most things, what we’re observing on the surface doesn’t tell the whole story.

Most people know that plastic is not biodegradable. But just for a day, observe all the things in your life that are plastic. Lighters. Cups. Toys. Bowls and dishes. Parts of our cars. The list goes on and on. Now think about what you do with a lighter when it stops working. Consider what you do with the Red Solo Cup when you’re done using it. What about when your kid’s toy breaks?

This isn’t meant to make you feel terrible. Well…maybe a little. But the point is that we all tend to view plastic as disposable. It’s cheap and convenient, and and so we use it without hesitation. Rarely do we consider the implications of one plastic cup, of one used up lighter. 

Much of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is made up of microplastics. The Garbage Patch isn’t a floating island of milk jugs. These tons upon tons of plastic are all sorts of sizes, with many of them being tiny, microscopic pieces of plastic that give the water a murky, cloudy look and stop the growth of plankton and other sea life. They make their way into even the most microscopic ocean creatures and work their way up the food chain, eventually ending up on our kitchen tables.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing by the day. The problems its causing are becoming more and more evident, though the extent of the implications won’t be known for years. Unless we all take seriously the part we have to play in slowing this problem down, we probably won’t see much change.

At Filtrol, we are committed to seeing the problem of microplastics disappear in our lifetime, and we believe it’s possible with hard work, strategic partnerships, and the right steps forward.

To find out more about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, click here

To learn more about what the Filtrol does to stop plastic pollution, watch this video

Plastic Pollution: It’s What You Can’t See

It’s easy to look around and see plastic pollution all around you. Plastic bags are snagged in branches. Weathered water bottles with missing caps are flattened on roadways and in ditches. Rivers’ edges are littered with pieces of garbage. A nominal effort could fill multiple garbage bags.

What most people fail to recognize is that the majority of plastic pollution that’s causing harm isn’t the plastic pollution that’s an eyesore at the beach and in our neighborhoods. Microscopic particles of plastic are affecting the quality of our water and the condition of our food. Fish are consuming massive amounts of micro fleece particles that are flushed into our streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans. Underground water aquifers, which supply much of our drinking water, is absorbing millions of non-biodegradable micro plastics. 

Random samplings of water from tiny streams to Great Lakes all show one, undeniable truth:

It’s What We Can’t See That’s Hurting Us

The trillions of microfibers in our planet’s water sources were put there by us. With each wash of man-made fabrics (like that fleece blanket you like), with each flicking of a cigarette butt to the street, we’re littering our planet with microscopic plastics.

The microfibers that are polluting our water are smaller than 5mm in length. The problem with these microscopic particles is that they’re made entirely of synthetic, man-made materials. They do not break down. They do not disappear. And the smaller they become, the more difficult they are to capture and remove from our ecosystem.

The problem isn’t going away. And while it seems that the plastic we see floating down the river and buried in the sand is causing all of the issues, the real threat to our water, our wildlife, and our overall health is something altogether microscopic.

The Filtrol: One of the Solutions for a Very Big Problem

At Filtrol, we’re from Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes. We grew up fishing and hunting, enjoying the outdoors and doing what we could to protect it and preserve it. Because we care so much about our environment, we are constantly building, innovating, optimizing, and investing in solutions that will help us preserve the outdoors we love so much.

This love for the outdoors is what brought us to become the manufacturer of the Filtrol, which blocks micro plastics from leaving your home and entering the ecosystem. As our journey with micro plastic filtration as unfolded, we developed new products and new strategies to effectively make an impact in our ecosystem. We are preparing to release a sink-mounted version of the Filtrol that is even more effective than our previous versions.

Sharing in our efforts to inform people about the true impact of plastic are groups around the world. Some of them are non-profits who are simply trying to steer the ship toward global change. Some are providing practical solutions to help remedy the problem.

One such organization is the Plastic Pollution Coalition. The PPC is seeking to raise awareness of the worldwide plastic crisis that is impacting our waterways, our wildlife, and our health. They’re doing it with the help of Jeff Bridges (often referred to as “The Dude”), which definitely makes them gain instant credibility in our minds. Their work is educational, legislative, and practical.

Did you know that, based on weight, in 30 years, based on current trends, our oceans will have more plastic than fish in them?! That’s a lot of plastic. By working to eliminate single-use plastics (like that red Solo cup you’re drinking out of) and by seeking to educate people about the true adverse affects of plastic on our ecosystem, the PPC is doing everything it can turn things around.

While the problem may seem enormous, and even too complex to solve, we all have a part to play in the solution. We can all cut down on our single-use plastics. We can stay educated through resources like the Plastic Pollution Coalition. And we can all install simple solutions like the Filtrol to stop micro plastics from leaving our homes and entering our ecosystem.