Protecting Georgian Bay’s Water
A little background...
According to Capturing microfibers – marketed technologies reduce microfiber emissions from washing machines 1 ( McIlwraith at. al), the Lint LUV-R (a filter similar to the FIltrol 160) captured 87% of micofibers in the wash by count. Microfibers come off your clothes during laundering, and since most of your clothes are likely made from synthetic materials many of them are plastic. These tiny strands of plastic (less than 5 mm) can be as high as 700,000 per wash load depending on the amount and the synthetic materials in the wash (Napper and Thompson) 2. In the Capturing microfibers 1(McIIwraith et.al) published research paper, 90,700 to 138,000 fibers are estimates based on washing one synthetic blanket. Some further 'downstream estimates' show some potentially very alarming consequences.
- "Most of these fibers will travel with wastewater to a WWTP to be treated. Studies suggest that 83–99.9% of microplastics are captured in the sludge of a WWTP (Carr et al., 2016; Dris et al., 2015; Talvitie et al., 2017), with the remaining emitted to the aquatic environment via final effluent. If 99% of the 23 to 36 trillion microfibers are captured in the sludge, then up to 234 to 356 billion could be released directly into lakes and rivers annually based on our data and calculations. If the sludge is land applied, some of the remaining ~23–35.5 trillion could also be released into the environment."3
We all need to do things differently to protect our freshwater - from changing our fashion choices away from synthetic materials and clothes that have a short-life span, to decreasing our frequency of clothing purchase, to reducing the number of washing loads we do, to installing filters on our washing machines.
Georgian Bay Forever (GBF), thanks to our funders and partners, aims to build on the microfibers research and test a filter solution in the field - with real households - in a Parry Sound Field Study we are calling Divert and Capture. When complete, in about 2.5 years, these results will be shared with stakeholders, manufacturers , and the public to influence change in our habits that are currently leading to the build-up of plastic in our freshwater.