Washing machine's delicate cycle releases a ton of microplastics

A new study has found that a delicate wash cycle consumes more water and releases around 800,000 extra microplastics to the environment.


NSFW    NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, UNITED KINGDOM — New research from Newcastle University has found that a washing machine's delicate wash cycles release more microplastic fibers in comparison to other wash cycles.

The scientists used a tergotometer to simulate a washing machine to test for different washing cycles, different water temperatures and different water volumes using polyester clothing.

They used a digital color imaging system called DigiEye camera to accurately measure the amount of microplastics released from the wash.

A delicate wash cycle released approximately 1.4 million microplastics, the Irish Times reports, citing the study. This is 800,000 more plastic fibers than a standard wash.

In comparison, the washing machine's standard washing cycle released around 600,000 fibers.

Lead author of the study Max Kelly, a PhD student at the university's School of Natural and Environmental Science, explained in a Newcastle University news release that even with a slower spin speed, the delicate wash cycle is able to "pluck" away extra fibers from clothing material due to its larger water volume.

These microplastics are so tiny that they are able to drain out of the washing machine and enter the oceans to harm the marine environment, according to the news release.
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