People practice yoga on the morning of the summer solstice in New York's Times Square June 20, 2012. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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Comfortable clothes are emerging as a source of plastic that's increasingly ending up in the oceans and potentially contaminating seafood, according to Gulf Coast researchers launching a two-year study of microscopic plastics in the waters from south Texas to the Florida Keys.Wastewater systems flush the microfibers into natural waterways, eventually reaching the sea.McGuire's data from Florida waters, compiled from 1-liter samples run through filters fine enough to catch microfibers missed by the trawls used in the larger studies, adds to the growing research focused on plastic pieces that degrade but never disappear.The Gulf Coast study will use McGuire's methodology to determine the prevalence of microfibers and other microscopic plastics.A plastic "garbage patch" like one circulating in the Pacific Ocean is unlikely in the Gulf of Mexico, but the regional study may reveal areas particularly prone to the accumulation of plastics, said Caitlin Wessel, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Marine Debris Program.Microfibers comprised the vast majority of plastic found – 82 percent.
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