Microfibers generated from the laundering of cotton, rayon and polyester based fabrics and their aquatic biodegradation

Last modified: 
April 9, 2019 - 12:41pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2019
Date published: 05/2019
Authors: Marielis Zambrano, Joel Pawlak, Jesse Daystar, Mary Ankeny, Jay Cheng, Richard Venditti
Journal title: Marine Pollution Bulletin
Volume: 142
Pages: 394 - 407
ISSN: 0025326X

The effect of fiber type (cotton, polyester, and rayon), temperature, and use of detergent on the number of microfibers released during laundering of knitted fabrics were studied during accelerated laboratory washing (Launder-Ometer) and home laundering experiments. Polyester and cellulose-based fabrics all shed significant amounts of microfibers and shedding levels were increased with higher water temperature and detergent use. Cellulose-based fabrics released more microfibers (0.2–4 mg/g fabric) during accelerated laundering than polyester (0.1–1 mg/g fabric). Using well-controlled aquatic biodegradation experiments it was shown that cotton and rayon microfibers are expected to degrade in natural aquatic aerobic environments whereas polyester microfibers are expected to persist in the environment for long periods of time.

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