While microplastics have received significant attention in recent years for their negative environmental impacts, a new study from Oregon State University scientists found microfibers from synthetic materials as well as cotton impacted the behavior and growth of water organisms.
“We’re trying to shift the narrative a little bit because so much of the focus has been just on the plastics, but really we need to focus more generally on microfibers of all types,” said Susanne Brander, an associate professor and ecotoxicologist at Oregon State. “What we are seeing is that even the cotton, while it has less of an impact than the synthetic materials, still has an impact on the growth and behavior of the organisms we studied.”
The study, published this week in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science, is being released at a time of increased attention on regulating microfibers. Like microplastics, microfibers are of concern because scientists are increasingly identifying them in water samples and finding they are causing adverse impacts in organisms and ecosystems.
A bill was recently introduced in Oregon that would require new clothes washers sold in the state be equipped with a microfiber filtration system. France recently approved a similar measure and several other countries, states and provinces are considering bills. Related, a study from Canada in 2021 found that washing machine filters reduce microfiber emissions….