Microfibers from synthetic textiles as a major source of microplastics in the environment: A review

Sanjit Acharya, Shaida S. Rumi, Yang Hu, Noureddine Abidi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Microplastic fibers, also known as microfibers, are the most abundant microplastic forms found in the environment. Microfibers are released in massive numbers from textile garments during home laundering via sewage effluents and/or sludge. This review presents and discusses the importance of synthetic textile-based microfibers as a source of microplastics. Studies focused on their release during laundering were reviewed, and factors affecting microfiber release from textiles and the putative role of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) as a pathway of their release in the environment were examined and discussed. Moreover, potential adverse effects of microfibers on marine and aquatic biota and human health were briefly reviewed. Studies show that thousands of microfibers are released from textile garments during laundering. Different factors, such as fabric type and detergent, impact the release of microfibers. However, a relatively smaller number of available studies and often conflicting findings among studies make it harder to establish definitive trends related to important factors contributing to the release of microfibers. Even though current WWTPs are highly effective in capturing microfibers, due to the presence of a massive number of microfibers in the influent, up to billions of fibers per day are released through effluent into the environment. There is a need to establish standardized protocols and procedures that can allow meaningful comparisons among studies to be performed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTextile Research Journal
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Microplastics
  • marine biota
  • microfibers
  • pollution
  • wastewater treatment plant

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