MICROFIBRES AND TUMBLE DRYERS
What is microfibre air pollution?
We may have heard of microfibres being released during washing cycles of our garments, but did you know they also pollute the air?
A recent study from City University of Hong Kong found that using a household vented tumble dryer released around 433,128 - 561,810 microfibres into the air during just 15 minutes of use![1.]
What are microfibres?
Microfibres are tiny pieces of plastics less than 5mm in length. Caused by friction during textiles laundry, fabrics will shed these microfibres. They are too small to be caught by standard filters in washing machines, and so they make their way into our waterways, and into wildlife. Through tumble drying, they are released into the atmosphere through vents. An article from 2020, stated they were not only found in wildlife, but also in placentas of unborn babies.[2.] Microplastics have also been found in food causing intestinal gut problems and damaging human cells in a laboratory.[3.]
What can we do to prevent them?
Whilst there are currently items such as the Cora Ball, and the GuppyFriend washbag that can be used to trap microfibres from within washing machines, I have yet to find anything that stops microfibres from being released from tumble dryers. Studies show that more than ever, we are in desperate need for specially designed filters in both washing machines and tumble dryers to catch these tiny plastics preventing them from escaping into pollution.
Where possible, instead of tumble drying your laundry, line dry instead. As there is no machine that throws the textiles around to cause friction, there should be little release of microfibres into the air by comparison.
Microfibres are released from both synthetic and natural fibres. The main difference being that natural fibres will decompose, and are therefore less harmful to the environment.
So when choosing clothes and fabrics, opt for natural and/or more sustainable options.
References and Sources:
1: Prof Kenneth Leung, director of the State Key Laboratory of Marine Pollution (SKLMP) and department of chemistry at City University of Hong Kong.
Leung et al, 2022, Microfibers Released into the Air from a Household Tumble Dryer, American Chemical Society.
A KIND CLOTH is in no way affiliated with any of the names or works mentioned.