PFAS-coated clothes that are thrown away will often end up either incinerated or in landfill. Unless incinerated at very high temperatures (>1000oC), fluorinated polymers could release more harmful PFAS during burning. PFAS of environmental concern have also been found in landfill leachate. PFAS is found in treated waste water from industrial and domestic sources and has been found in both rivers and groundwater. Conventional drinking water processes will not remove PFAS.Small quantities of PFAS will be removed during wash and wear of products containing PFAS. This includes fluorinated polymers used on stain-resistant coatings, and non-polymers that remain on clothes after production (Lassen et al. 2015).Non-polymer PFAS can build up in blood protein of animals, and is not always removed quickly. This means that predators eating PFAS-contaminated food will have higher levels in their bloodstream, and concentrations can increase up the food chain. Studies suggest that build up of PFAS is similar to those of other Persistent Organic Pollutants such as DDT.PFAS are estimated to be settling in arctic regions at rates of tens to hundreds of kilograms per year (25-850kg per year), depending on the specific PFAS chemical in question. Certain PFAS are released as gases to the environment and are blown a long way by wind and air currents in the atmosphere,. These gas PFAS will over time degrade to more persistent chemicals like PFOS and PFOA. This may be one reason why PFAS of environmental concern have been found in remote regions such as the Arctic as well as near PFAS production sitesPFAS including PFOS and PFOA have been found in air samples around Europe. The chemicals are found in small quantities, but appear in almost all samples tested. PFAS enters the atmosphere both from factories and the air inside our homes. Non-polymer PFAS are used in the production of fluorinated polymers. The manufacture of stain-resistant finishes generally releases these PFASs into the environment, both by air and water emissions. They are very hard to remove during water treatment. Workers in textiles factories are some of the population most exposed to these potentially harmful chemicals.

The Great Global Nurdle Hunt launches

October marks the start of the Great Global Nurdle Hunt 2021 event. Whether you’re a regular hunter or new to nurdles, this year we want as many people as possible to take part, as we are showcasing the results of the hunt at COP26 on 9th November. This is our opportunity to get pellet pollution on the agenda of international decision makers, to drive change and take steps towards ending nurdle pollution for good. Take part in a nurdle hunt throughout October to help raise awareness and show the extent of nurdle pollution!  

Get involved  

The Great Global Nurdle Hunt is our global citizen science project aiming to generate evidence and awareness of plastic pellet pollution. Anyone can contribute to, and build evidence of this issue. To take part, all you need to do is head to your local beach, count the number of nurdles you find and submit your data to the global map – 

Live inland or have trouble reaching a beach? Nurdles have been found on riverbanks and lake shores so it doesn’t rule out taking part – wherever you hunt though, please make sure it is safe to do so, keeping an eye on tide times, water levels or weather. Read our top tips for hunting nurdles

How can taking part stop nurdle pollution?  

Nurdles are tiny plastic pellets, about the size of a lentil. They are the building blocks used to make almost all our plastic products. But these tiny pieces of plastic are adding up into a big problem as they leak out all along the plastic supply chain in their billions. 

We want to see industry take responsibility of the pellets they handle and to stop this pollution at source. This means putting in place multiple layers of protection to reduce spills, and prevent any remaining spills being lost to the environment.  

Evidence from our Global Nurdle Hunt is vital for this work. The Nurdle Map shows that people across the world are finding these plastic pellets washed up on their shores. We harness this worldwide engagement by showcasing the fantastic work people are doing to show the global plastics industry and decision-makers that plastic pellet pollution is widespread and, importantly, people care about it.   

This creates public pressure to hold industry accountable and implement solutions. By taking part you are helping to demonstrate how big this problem is and you’re helping to support calls to end plastic pellet pollution once and for all.  

Harnessing a global nurdle network  

This is a global problem that calls for globally coordinated solutions. Through the Great Global Nurdle Hunt Fidra work with organisations internationally who are also working on nurdle solutions which is why this year lots of participation is key to showcase the Great Global Nurdle Hunt data and solutions work of all worldwide participants to decision makers at COP26. 

Help us make 2021 the most impactful year yet – let’s get nurdle hunting! 

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