Plastic Fibers - The End Of Life As We Know It

By Josh Bloom — Sep 07, 2017
Worried about North Korea tossing nukes around? Ebola? Killer hurricanes? While all of these are dreadful, you might as well forget about them and every other threat around. They are irrelevant. We are already doomed. Because someone put a fleece jacket in the dryer. 
Sparkling or Tap? Photo:Aliexpress

Worried about North Korea tossing nukes around? Ebola? Killer hurricanes? Did you buy Knicks season tickets? While all of these are dreadful in different ways, you might as well forget about them and every other threat around. They are irrelevant. We are already doomed. Because someone put a fleece jacket in the dryer. 

Hope you fleece wearers are happy now. Adapted from Pixabay

A seriously flipped out story in The Guardian tries to scare us with one of the dumbest premises I've ever heard.

"Plastic fibres found in tap water around the world, study reveals"

But it gets even worse! Plastic fibers are not found in some water. They are in all water:

Plastic fibers in tap water around the world. Note that India has only 4 fibers per 500 mL while the US has 4.8, clearly reflecting the superiority of Indian water. Source: Orb Media

Am I the only one who sees how crazy this is? A good part of the world is going to be grateful if they turn on the tap (assuming they even have one) and not have a lizard head come shooting out. Are 80.8% of Ugandans going to worry because some loonies found 2.2 invisible strands of Lycra in one pint of their water? 

Yet that's apparently what Dr. Anne Marie Mahon of the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology in Ireland believes: “We don’t know what the [health] impact is and for that reason we should follow the precautionary principle and put enough effort into it now, immediately, so we can find out what the real risks are.” 

What would following the precautionary principle mean here? Not drink any water until insignificant numbers of plastic fibers that have already being consumed by everyone in the world for decades (and are impossible to remove) are gone? That doesn't sound like such a hot idea. And there are plenty more "not so hot" ideas in the article:

“If the fibres are there, it is possible that the nanoparticles are there too that we can’t measure."

It is also possible that ukuleles are in there too, but it's unlikely. There are all kinds of things in the water that can't be measured, so by all means, let's waste more time trying to do so. I don't expect that they will find Kim Kardashian's MENSA certificate in water either. 

“Once [the nanoparticles (which haven't been and cannot be measured)] are in the nanometre range they can really penetrate a cell and that means they can penetrate organs, and that would be worrying.”

Not it's not. A lizard head is a bit worrying. Cholera, typhoid, salmonella, hepatitis A, Shigella, Cryptosporidium. and E. Coli- those are worrying are really worrying. According to the WHO, "884 million people lack even a basic drinking-water service, including 159 million people who are dependent on surface water. Globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with faeces." THAT is something to worry about. Not fleece fuzz. Duh. 

"The scale of global microplastic contamination is only starting to become clear, with studies in Germany finding fibres and fragments in all of the 24 beer brands."

Try telling the Germans that they can't drink beer because it has plastic fibers in it. Let me know how well that works out.

Even more horrifying..." a recent study finding that each cycle of a washing machine could release 700,000 fibres into the environment."

Well, that's certainly easy enough to solve. Just turn the world into a global nudist colony. Although that may not be as tempting as it seems if you've been on a New York subway. It's a double order of ugly down there.

“If we breathe them in they could potentially deliver chemicals to the lower parts of our lungs and maybe even across into our circulation.” (1)

This is the pinnacle of idiocy. Wondering about the amount of chemical matter that might be carried by microscopic fibers into your lungs while this goes on: 

Photo credit: Pixabay


I have never taken the impact of plastics on the environment lightly (2,3,4,). It is a serious problem that won't be going away anytime soon. And it is a real problem. So is unhealthy water and unbreathable air. Two plastic fibers in a pint water with no lizard heads in it? Just go recycle the paper that this nonsense was printed on.


(1) Quote by Frank Kelly, professor of environmental health at King’s College London.

(2) Some Hope For Plastics In The Environment?

(3) A Shout-Out To Dell For Reducing Plastic Ocean Pollution

(4) Russia's Beautiful Garbage Beach


Josh Bloom

Director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science

Dr. Josh Bloom, the Director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science, comes from the world of drug discovery, where he did research for more than 20 years. He holds a Ph.D. in chemistry.

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