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Impact of UV degradation on the fate and potential impact of textile microfibers and their additive chemicals in the marine environment

Sørensen, Lisbet; Del Puerto, Oihane; Groven, Anette Synnøve; Hovsbakken, Ingrid Alver; Sait, Shannen; Sathananthan, Dhiya Sumar; Igartua, Amaia; Davies, Emlyn John; Sarno, Antonio; Ribicic, Deni; Salaberria, Iurgi; Brakstad, Odd Gunnar; Asimakopoulos, Alexandros; Halsband, Claudia; Herzke, Dorte; Booth, Andrew

Publication details

Event: MICRO2020 (Virtual)

Date: November 23rd 2020 – November 27th 2020

Microfibers (MFs) are frequently reported as the most dominant type of microplastic (MP) found in the marine water column and sediments. A major source of MFs is the use and washing of textiles. Although WWTPs can remove up to 98% of MP, estimates suggest billions of MP are still released from a single WWTP annually. Intrinsic properties (polymer type, density, size) will influence environmental degradation, settling times, and ingestion of MFs by marine organisms. Less well understood is the influence of environmental degradation on the fate of MFs. In the current study, we compare the effect of UV exposure on the degradation and fragmentation of polyester (PET), polyamide (nylon; PA), polyacrylonitrile (acrylic; PAN) and wool fibers. Degradation of MFs was conducted in seawater under environmentally relevant exposure conditions using simulated sunlight. PA, PET and wool MFs exhibited changes in surface morphology after just 2 weeks from the start of exposure, followed by fragmentation after