- Journal Article
Fiber fragments are one of the dominant types of microplastics in environmental samples, suggesting that synthetic textiles are a potential source of microplastics to the environment. Whereas the release of microplastics during washing of textiles is already well studied, much less is known about the release during abrasion processes. The abrasion of textiles may induce fibrillation of fibers and therefore result in the formation of much finer fiber fragments. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of abrasion of synthetic textiles on the formation of microplastic fibers and fibrils. Fleece and interlock textile swatches made of polyester were abraded using abrasion tests with a Martindale tester. The microplastic fibers and fibrils formed during abrasion were extracted from the textiles and characterized in terms of number, length, and diameter. The microplastic fibers demonstrated the same diameter than the fibers found in the textiles (fleece: 12.3 μm; interlock: 12.7 μm), while fibrils with a much smaller diameter (fleece: 2.4 μm; interlock: 4.9 μm) were also found. The number of fibrils formed during abrasion in both textiles was higher than the number of microplastic fibers. The majority of the extracted microplastic fibers had a length between 200 and 800 μm, while most fibrils were between 30 and 150 μm, forming two distinct fiber fragment morphologies. The number of microplastic fibers formed during abrasion was 5 to 30 times higher than the number of microplastic fibers that could be extracted from non-abraded samples. The number of fibrils increased after abrasion by more than a factor of 200 for both fabric types. The fibrils formed during abrasion have diameters that fall within the inhalable size for airborne particles. The potential release of fibrils into air during wear of textiles thus raises questions about the human exposure to these materials. Since the Martindale tester can simulate a daily application scenario of textiles over a prolonged period only in a limited way, future studies are needed to establish the correlation between the test results with a real-world scenario. Show more
Journal / seriesEnvironmental Science & Technology
Pages / Article No.
PublisherAmerican Chemical Society
Subjectmicroplastic; textiles; release; fibers; fibrils; fragmentation
Organisational unit09717 - Mitrano, Denise M. / Mitrano, Denise M.
03832 - Morgenroth, Eberhard / Morgenroth, Eberhard
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