Microfibers: A study published in the scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters indicates that household clothes dryers release microfibers into the environment. Waste includes microplastics, which come off synthetic fabrics like polyester.
It is estimated that a clothes dryer releases up to 120 million microfibers per year. They would break off from the friction between the parts that dry in the machine, and then they would be released into the atmosphere through its air tube.
The researchers analyzed the drying of garments made of cotton and polyester, done separately for 15 minutes. The microfibers that detached from the tissues were collected and counted.
The more polyester garments in the dryer, the greater the release of microfibers into the atmosphere. For cotton items, the amount of particles remains constant; this would be the result of the union of the material, making it impossible to remain in the air.
Microfiber release is harmful to the environment
Washing machines are already known to release microfibers and microplastics through their wash water. This study indicates that the clothes dryer releases even more particles into the environment than the washing machine.
The microfibers and microplastics are transported to the outside through the dryer’s air tube. Ventilated air is usually untreated — so the particles are released directly into the air, and can carry pollutants with them that travel long distances.
In addition to being harmful to nature, microplastics can also be inhaled or ingested by accident, threatening the health of humans and animals. There is a growing body of research looking at its harmful effects, including the potential for increased cancer risk.
Alternative textile materials have been explored with the aim of producing more durable and sustainable fabrics. Meanwhile, the study suggests using machine-adapted filters as a short-term solution, minimizing the release of microfibers and their harmful effects on health and the environment.