Systematic Study of Microplastic Fiber Release from 12 Different Polyester Textiles during Washing
- Journal Article
Microplastic fibers (MPFs) have been found to be a major form of microplastics in freshwaters, and washing of synthetic textiles has been identified as one of their main sources. The aim of this work was to use a panel of 12 different textiles of representative fibers and textile types to investigate the source(s) of the MPF during washing. Using standardized washing tests, textile swatches tailored using five different cutting/sewing methods were washed up to 10 times. The MPF quantity and fiber length were determined using image analysis. The 12 textiles demonstrated great variability in MPF release, ranging from 210 to 72,000 MPF/g textile per wash. The median MPF length ranged from 165 to 841 μm. The number of released MPF was influenced by the cutting method, where scissor-cut samples released 3–21 times higher numbers of MPF than the laser-cut samples. The textiles with mechanically processed surfaces (i.e., fleece) released significantly more (p-value < 0.001) than the textiles with unprocessed surfaces. For all textiles, the MPF release decreased with repeated wash cycles, and a small continuous fiber release was observed after 5–6 washings, accompanied by a slight increase in the fiber length. The decrease in the number of MPF released is likely caused by depletion of the production-inherited MPFs trapped within the threads or the textile structure. The comparison of MPF release from laser-cut samples, which had sealed edges, and the other cutting methods allowed us to separate the contributions of the edge- and surface-sourced fibers from the textiles to the total release. On an average, 84% (range 49–95%) of the MPF release originated from the edges, highlighting the importance of the edge-to-surface ratio when comparing different release studies. The large contribution of the edges to the total release offers options for technical solutions which have the possibility to control MPF formation throughout the textile manufacturing chain by using cutting methods which minimize MPF formation. © 2020 American Chemical Society. Show more
Journal / seriesEnvironmental Science & Technology
Pages / Article No.
PublisherAmerican Chemical Society
Organisational unit09717 - Mitrano, Denise M. / Mitrano, Denise M.
168105 - The path of microplastics to the environment: fate and transport in waste water treatment systems (SNF)
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