Is That A Fiber In My Fish?

Microfibers in Our WaterYou may not see them with the naked eye but they are there. Microfibers may go unnoticed to us, but to fish, shellfish, and other aquatic animals, they look like a meal. To get an idea of how small they really are, check out these fibers we collected in one of our Filtrol160 filter bags during a load of laundry:

So Why Are Microfibers a Big Deal?

First, we need to understand what a microfiber is. Microfibers are tiny fibers that are shed from your clothing every time they are washed. Now some of those fibers may be natural and will in time biodegrade. But most of our clothing – 60% of our clothing today – is made from what is called synthetics, which is a man-made product of plastic. It is non bio-degradable, which means that it doesn’t go away, even in its most microscopic form. Thousands of these fibers go down the drain along with the waste water from your washing machine. That water then moves to your local waste water treatment plant to be filtered.

Does Water Treatment Stop Microfibers?

Although waste water treatment plants can remove anywhere between 85%- 95% of the pollutants in the water it processes, it does not remove microfibers. Because of the size of the microfibers, 65 million of them are still sneaking through the system on a daily basis. Once they get through the waste water treatment process, they are released into local water ways like lakes, rivers, and oceans.

What Happens to Microfibers in Nature?

Now all of those tiny plastic microfibers are in our water and they’re not going anywhere good. Once there, these fibers do something very much like a snowball effect. They start attracting toxics found in the water, building layers of harmful contaminants. Due to their small size they become appealing to something else that is small, microorganisms like plankton. 

Welcome to the food chain microfibers.

Once the plankton ingests a microfiber, it can remain in their system for hours and can also have negative effects on their eating habits. Plankton is a main food source for many aquatic animals such as shrimp, crab, clams, and all sizes of fish. Up the food chain those microfibers go. Can you guess the next link that has the pleasure of ingesting the unwanted fibers? You guessed it. Us. When we can’t resist an awesome sushi bar or an all you can eat shrimp and fish fry, we’re actually consuming microfibers. Thousands and thousands of them. 

Here’s a visual of everything I just explained (because who doesn’t love pictures in a story).

Keep fibers off your plate!

There are ways to reduce to the amount of microfibers reaching our waterways. One way would be installing a lint filter that attaches directly to your washing machine discharge hose. With this, you would be preventing the microfibers from ever leaving your house. Check out our lint filter – the Filtrol160 – and keep those fibers out of your food.