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