Do our clothes make us sick?
Because of our dependence on fast fashion, synthetic materials, and washing machines, microplastic contamination of all habitats is likely to increase. There is irrefutable proof that microfibers are not only polluting the ocean but also making their way to humans.
Inhaled plastic microfibers may persist in the lung and as a result, could cause inflammation. It has been hypothesized that this could lead to health effects including reproductive problems, cancer, and DNA damage. Particle pollution such as asbestos and fine dust has long been known to damage lung tissues, leading to cancer, asthma attacks, and other health problems. If inhalation of microplastics is sufficiently high, these plastic particles may cause similar health problems. Multiple research reveals people working with plastic-based textiles and dust are at an increased risk of respiratory problems.
What are the potential long-term effects of microfiber pollution from synthetic clothes on human health? In 2018, the Plastic Soup Foundation launched the Plastic Health Coalition, which put together a group of organizations that are working on more research, prevention, and solutions.
In addition to the formation of the Coalition, ZonMw, a Dutch organization that finances health research, gave the green light to 15 short-term research projects. These pilot projects focus on the effects of micro- and nanoplastics on human health. Three of these fifteen research projects revolve around the effects of microplastics in the lungs. Visit our Plastic Health Coalition website for more detailed information about these research projects and our Science page to learn more about the potential effects of microfibers on human health.