Research has shown that fabric dryers are an unobserved source of airborne microfibers

CityU's research on fabric dryers has identified an unobserved source of airborne microfibers

CityU research found that a single cloth dryer can release 120 million microfibers per year, which is 1.4 to 40 times higher than washing machines. Found: Danyang Tao et al.

It has been found that washing clothes can release many microfibers in contaminated water, but it is not clear if the drying of clothes has an effect on the environment. A pilot study by scientists from City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has shown that a single cloth dryer can release 120 million microfibers annually – 1.4 to 40 times more from washing machines. To keep the release of these harmful microfibers, the company said new filtering systems for dry holes will be installed as soon as possible.

Dr. Zhang Kai, former researcher of the State Key Laboratory of Marine Pollution (SKLMP) at CityU and Professor Leung Mei-yee, Director of SKLMP and Director at the Department of Chemicals at CityU also led the presentation. research team. The work was published in a textbook Environmental Science & Technology Papersunder the heading “Microfibers released into the air from a house dryer.”

Microfiber air pollution should be considered

Microplastics are a threat to aquatic life and their ecosystem. In addition to the ocean and fresh water, microfibers have been found in the air and ecosystems. Exposure to airborne microplastics has been linked to adverse effects on human health, including obstructive pulmonary disease.

Synthetic textile fibers, such as polyester fibers, are widely used in clothing. But most of the published research has focused on the production of microfibers from washing machines, and studies on the release of microfibers related to textile into the air. Therefore, Dr. Zhang, Professor Leung and their research team conducted experiments to find out.

CityU's research on fabric dryers has identified an unobserved source of airborne microfibers

CityU’s research team is investigating the microfibers they collected during the experiment. Available: City of Hong Kong

Dry cleaners pollute the microfiber air

In their research, the CityU researchers confirmed the hypothesis that smelters emit large amounts of plastic microfibers, which are one of the main causes of microfiber pollution in the air.

In their experiment, the researchers separated fabrics made with polyester and cotton in a dry box that had an exit pipe. When the machine ran for 15 minutes, they collected and counted the pieces of air that came out of the air. The results showed that both types of clothes were made of microfibers, which the team thought came from the collision of the clothes which also eroded when falling.

They found that the dryer released up to 561,810 microfibers in 15 minutes of use. For both fabrics, the dryer released between 1.4 and 40 times more microscopic particles than the washers recorded in the previous studies for the size of the fabrics. The release of polyester microfibers increases with the increasing weight of the fabrics in the dryer, but the release of cotton microfibers continues regardless of the weight.

The research team estimates that on average between 90 and 120 million microfibers are produced and released into outdoor air in a Canadian home dryer each year.

The release of large amounts of microfibers from synthetic fabrics into air -dried materials is a concern because they can be irritating if ingested or inhaled, and can be taken anywhere. long by the wind. In addition, they can adsorb and carry contaminants for a long time.

CityU's research on fabric dryers has identified an unobserved source of airborne microfibers

The microfibers were collected by the team during the experiment. Available: City of Hong Kong

The filters must be fitted with dryers

Preliminary studies have shown that although microfibers from detergents are released into the washing machine, that waste water is often stored, removing some or most of the fibers before release. Of rivers, streams or coastal waters. However, air from the dryers usually travels through a simple lint filter and a duct before it is released.

In order to reduce the air pollution created by microfibers, the company said it is necessary to reduce the release of microfibers from water solvents in all ways. “In the long run, it’s important to make better textiles that make the fabric more durable, longer lasting, and improve the environment… From dry materials through fabrication. to simple filters that are engineered at the end of the discharge pipes, ”Drs. Zhang thought.

Using 3D printing, CityU scientists have previously developed new filters to prevent microplastics from being dispersed from washing machines, and are working on developing a similar system for dry matter. “To control the release of these airborne microfibers, the lint filters need to be replaced with a smaller mesh size and an additional filter system for dry vents,” says Professor Leung.


Cloth dryers are an unpopular source of airborne microfibers


More information:
Danyang Tao et al, Microfibers were released into the air from a house dryer, Environmental Science & Technology Papers (2022). DOI: 10.1021 / acs.estlett.1c00911

Presented by City University of Hong Kong

Directions: Cloth dryer research found an unobserved source of airborne microfibers (2022, April 8) Retrieved 9 April 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-04- dryers-overlooked-source-airborne-microfibers.html

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