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PLYMOUTH – New research on the extent of textile microfibre pollution in the environment suggests that garments emit substantially more microfibres when worn than they do when laundered.

Scientists from the University of Plymouth and the Institute for Polymers, Composites and Biomaterials of the National Research Council of Italy (IPCB-CNR) tested four polyester-based fabrics of varying constructions to assess the rate of microfibre emission in day-to-day activity versus after a wash cycle at 40oC.

Whilst as many as 4,000 fibres per gram of fabric were shed in a single laundering, 400 fibres per gram of fabric were emitted in just 20 minutes of ‘normal activity’, suggesting the long-term implications of simply wearing garments could have a far more significant effect on the environment.

At scale, the researchers approximate that over a year, 900 million microfibres could be emitted by air from a single garment, whilst wash cycles would release closer to 300 million.

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