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GENEVA – A new study suggests the scale of microplastic pollution in our oceans could be a million times worse than previously estimates – and more than a third of the pollution comes from synthetic fibres. Researchers looked at the intestines of tiny filter-feeding invertebrates called salps and found previously undetected mini-microplastics which could in theory enter the food chain. The study was led by biological oceanographer Jennifer Brandon of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and published in the science journal Limnology and Oceanography Letters. It found the concentration of tiny plastic pieces could be five to seven orders of magnitude greater than previously thought.

More than one-third of microplastics in the ocean come from synthetic fabrics, such as polyester or nylon. Car tyres are the second-leading source, releasing plastic particles as they erode.

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