Third of microplastic pollution in oceans caused by shedding from synthetic clothing, study finds


More than one-third of microplastics in the ocean come from synthetic fabrics, such as polyester or nylon releasing plastic particles, research has shown.

According to Swiss researchers, most artificial fabrics give off tiny particles of plastic every time they are washed, which often find their way to the oceans where they accumulate in the stomachs of fish and other marine creatures.

The study, led by Yaping Cai from the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, tested 12 textiles.

The results showed that the type of fibre and the way the clothing was made has a significant effect on the extent to which the microplastics were shed, ranging from 210 microplastic fibres (MPF)/g per wash for laser-cut twill to 72,000 MPF/g for scissor-cut microfibre.

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