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Microfiber release from different fabrics during washing

Yang, Libiao, Qiao, Fei, Lei, Kun, Li, Huiqin, Kang, Yu, Cui, Song, An, Lihui
Environmental pollution 2019 v.249 pp. 136-143
acetates, aquatic environment, bags, detergents, drainage systems, effluents, fabrics, laundry, lint cotton, microplastics, polyamides, polyesters, temperature, washing
Microfiber is a subgroup of microplastics and accounts for a large proportion of microplastics in aquatic environment, especially in municipal effluents. The purpose of the present study was to quantify microfiber shedding from three most populate synthetic textile fabrics: polyester, polyamide, and acetate fabrics. The results showed that more microfibers were released after washing with a pulsator laundry machine than a platen laundry machine. The greatest number of microfibers was released from acetate fabric, which was up to 74,816 ± 10,656 microfibers/m2 per wash, although microfibers were shed from all materials. Moreover, an increasing trend was found in the number of microfibers shedding from synthetic fabrics with the washing temperature increasing, and greater microfiber release occurred when washing fabrics with detergent rather than with water alone. The lint filter bag equipped with the pulsator laundry machine retained the longer microfibers (>1000 μm), but not the shorter microfibers (<500 μm) instead of releasing into the drainage system. Our data suggested that microfibers released during washing of synthetic fabrics may be an important source of microfibers in aquatic environment due to the increasing production and use of synthetic fabrics globally. Thus, more efficient filtering bags or other technologies in household washing machines should be developed to prevent and reduce the release of microfibers from domestic washing.