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Published on Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Textile fibre type adds complexity to microplastic pollution

Written by John Mowbray

Karenfoleyphotography | depositphotos

OXFORD – New research into the pollution of marine and aquatic environments by microplastics, has found that as many as 700,000 synthetic textile fibres could be released from an average 6 kg wash load of acrylic fabric.

The UK study which looked at a variety of textiles washed under different temperatures and treated with or without softeners, also found that polyester–cotton blended fabric consistently shed significantly fewer fibres than either 100 per cent polyester or acrylic textiles. This newly released data indicates that fibres released by washing clothes could be an important source of microplastics to aquatic habitats, yet it’s still not fully understood what percentage of plastic in the aquatic environment is derived from textiles – given a current lack of available quantitative data.