Great Lakes News

Great Lakes News

Microfibers Polluting the Great Lakes


That cozy fleece jacket hanging in your closet may keep you warm during the frigid winter months, but it also could be contaminating the Great Lakes.

Scientists recently discovered the tiny strands of plastic that make up petroleum-based fabrics, such as polyester and nylon, are polluting the Great Lakes. These minuscule filaments are making their way undetected through sewage treatment plants and pose a risk of spreading toxic chemicals and disease-causing bacteria, according to a recent article published in the Chicago Tribune.

Though we cannot see the fibers with our naked eye, their damage on the lakes is extensive — microfibers now represent 4 percent of all garbage in the Great Lakes, according to a 2011 study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. A single fleece jacket can shed 1,900 fibers every time it’s washed. These microfibers can become infested with chemicals and bacteria and then lodge themselves into the stomachs and intestines of fish.

Microfiber photo by Rachel Ricotta

South Shore JUN17