Microfibers are a common type of microplastic. One known source of microfibers to the environment is domestic laundering, which can release thousands of fibers into washing machine effluent with every wash. The paper has adapted existing methods to measure the length, count and weight of microfibers in laundry effluent. Using this method, the paper tests the efficacy of two technologies marketed to reduce microfiber emissions: the Cora Ball and Lint LUV-R filter.
Most of the studies in the literature review included weight, rather than the count. Due to this, the first aim of the paper was to adapt existing methods to include count, weight and also length of microfibers in washing machine effluent. The length of the microfibers was also studied because mitigation strategies may target a particular size of microfibers (e.g., a filter with a specific mesh size) and because length may be an important metric when thinking about the environmental effects of the contamination.
Using adaptations of existing methods, we demonstrated that the Cora Ball and Lint LUV-R reduced an average of 26% and 87% of the total number of microfibers (> 100 ?m long) by count released from a new fleece blanket to laundry washing machine effluent, respectively. The Lint-LUV-R also significantly reduced the weight of fibers released but this was not the case for the Cora Ball. These results suggest that these two technologies added to washing machines could be an effective way to reduce microfiber emissions to the environment. While further investigations are needed to understand the relative contributions of microfibers from other textile products and their pathways to the environment, these available technologies could be adopted to reduce emissions from laundering textiles.
Read More: Capturing microfibers – marketed technologies reduce microfiber emissions from washing machines
Methods for the quantification of fibers in laundry effluent
Testing the efficacy of different microfiber-catching devices
Microfiber count weight and length in effluent
Mitigation strategies to reduce microfibers in the wash
Available technologies to mitigate microfiber