這項由巴塞隆納大學(University of Barcelona)研究人員所主導的研究，從坎塔布連海(Cantabrian Sea)延伸到黑海(Black Sea)的區域內皆發現紡織超細纖維的存在。他們分析了這些纖維的數量，長度在3-8毫米之間但直徑小於0.1毫米，主要來自家庭和工業用洗衣機。
在巴塞隆納大學的研究並發表在科學雜誌Plos One上的研究人員Anna Sánchez Vidal, William P de Haan和Miquel Canals強調：“這些合成超細纖維是由塑料所製成，它不會很快分解，可能含有化學添加物，很容易地混入食物鏈中”。
超細纖維是海洋環境中最常見的微塑料之一，迄今為止還沒在大範圍內進行如此深入的研究。研究人員分析南歐海域29個站點中，42個樣本和3,500公尺深的土壤樣本，結果顯示，在坎塔布連海(Cantabrian Sea)中發現了較高密度的纖維堆積，其次是加泰隆尼亞海(Catalan seas)和阿爾沃蘭海(Alboran Sea)，而在地中海西部和黑海中發現較低密度的纖維堆積。
地球與海洋動力學系的Anna Sánchez Vidal表示：“紡織超細纖維似乎集中在海底峽谷的底部，而斜坡上的數量則明顯的降低。這表明微纖維可能來自於陸地(使用一次洗衣機可排放多達70萬個微纖維到廢水中），大量積累在海洋平台上，透過自然洋流的循環將其帶到海洋峽谷的海底深處“。
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UB study describes presence of textile microfibers in south European marine floors
A study led by researchers of the UB quantifies the presence of textile microfibers in south European marine floors, from the Cantabrian Sea to the Black Sea. The study has analysed the amount of these colored fibers, which vary between 3 to 8 mm but are extremely fine, with less than a 0.1 mm diameter, and which come mainly from home and industrial washing machines. The results show the dominance of cellulosic fibers over synthetic polymers, and highlight that several oceanographic processes pile and transport microfibers to marine hollows.
These are some of the main conclusions of the article published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE by the researchers Anna Sànchez Vidal, William P. de Haan and Miquel canals, from the consolidated research group on Marine Geosciences of the Faculty of Earth Sciences of the UB, in collaboration with Richard C. Thompson, from the University of Plymouth (United Kingdom). According to the researchers, the study reports the presence of this residue in marine floors and could help designing effective management strategies to reduce the emission of microfibers with a potential negative effect on the marine ecosystems.
Residue at 2,000 meters depth
Microfibers are one of the most common microplastics in the marine environment, but such a deep study had not been carried out so far in a large area. Researchers analysed soil samples from 42 and 3,500 meters deep in 29 stations in southern European seas. The results show that higher densities of fiber are found in the Cantabrian Sea, followed by the Catalan seas and the Alboran Sea, respectively, while lower densities are in the western Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
The study also shows distance in deep seas is not a barrier to the accumulation of microfibers, since about 20 % of these particles are accumulated in the open sea beyond 2,000 meters deep. “Textile microfibers seem to concentrate at the bottom of submarine canyons, while the quantity in the slope is significantly lower. This suggests microfibers, probably coming from the ground (a washing machine can release up to 700,000 microfibers to waste waters in one use), are accumulated in the continental platform, from where they are swept and taken by several oceanographic processes to marine hollows through the natural conducts –marine canyons”, says Anna Sànchez Vidal, from the Department of Earth and Ocean Dynamics.
Microfibers in deep water organisms
These findings also confirm previous studies that detected microfibers that were ingested by deep water organisms in a natural environment. “Recent results show ingests of microplastics by different organisms and in different ecosystems, but the specific impact on the organisms is unknown”, highlights Anna Sànchez Vidal. “It can depend on a wide range of factors, such as features of the microfibers (size, abundance), or chemical substances these absorbed as well as the physiology and ecology (size, feeding, whether they excrete or accumulate, etc.) of marine organisms”, notes the expert.
The main type of microfiber they found in marine floors is the natural cellulose (cotton, linen) and regenerated cellulose (rayon of viscose), coming from clothes and industrial textiles mainly. Regarding synthetic fibers, polyester is the most common one, followed by acrylic, polyamide, polythene and polypropylene. “Some of these synthetic microfibers are made of plastic, which does not degrade shortly, it can contain chemical additives, which can be easily incorporated to the trophic network”, highlights the researcher.
Measures to reduce emissions
For the researchers, the presence and persistence of microfibers in marine soils –and the negative impact these can have on marine organisms in the long run- makes it clear there is a need to design effective management strategies to reduce the emission. “We need to advance in research and innovation in the textile industry, in the design of effective filters for washing machines, in the treatment of waste waters, and the promotion of sustainable clothing”, concludes Sànchez Vidal.
Original Article: Universitat de Barcelona