Microplastic release from textiles

Microplastic fibers make up a large proportion of microplastics found in the environment, especially in urban areas. There is good reason to consider synthetic textiles a major source of microplastic fibers, and it will not diminish since the use of synthetic fabrics, especially polyester, continues to increase. In this systematic study we provide quantitative data regarding the size and mass of microplastic fibers released from synthetic (polyester) textiles during washing under controlled laboratory conditions.


Cai, Y.; Mitrano, D.; Heuberger, M.; Hufenus, R.; Nowack, B. (2020) The origin of microplastic fiber in polyester textiles: the textile production process matters. J. Cleaner Production 267: 121970. pdf

Cai, Y.; Yang, T.; Mitrano, D.; Heuberger, M.; Hufenus, R.; Nowack, B. (2020). A systematic study of microplastic fiber release from 12 different polyester textiles during washing. Environ. Sci. Technol. 54:4847−4855. pdf

Hernandez, E.; Nowack, B.; Mitrano, D. M. (2017) Synthetic textiles as a source of microplastics from households: A mechanistic washing study to understand fiber and fabric construction for microplastic fiber release. Environ. Sci. Technol. 51: 7036-7046. pdf


Prof. Dr. Bernd Nowack 

Technology & Society Laboratory
Lerchenfeldstrasse 5
CH-9014 St. Gallen
Tel.: +41 58 765 76 92