Highlighting that 124 to 308 milligrams of microfibers are released per kilogram of fabric during washing, the study found that synthetic textiles add approximately 35% to the global release of primary microplastics worldwide. oceans. “Clothes made from synthetic materials such as polyester, acrylic, nylon and others are made of plastic and account for about 60% of clothing materials worldwide,” the study said.
The study raises serious concerns about microfiber pollution in India, which is the world’s second largest producer of polyester and viscose. “The textile industry contributes 2% to India’s GDP and is one of the biggest job generators with over 45 million people directly employed. Man-made fiber production in India increased from 1,307 million kg in 2013-14 to 1,319 million kg in 2017-18,” the analysis states.
Although globally consumers are more aware, researchers found that awareness in India of synthetic textile concerns is negligible.
In an earlier study by Toxics Link, a high percentage of microfibers was found along the Ganges in samples taken from Kanpur, Varanasi and Haridwar. In another Toxics Link study, water samples from the Goa sewage treatment plant contained around 37% microfiber concentrations.
The latest study emphasized the impact of microfiber pollution on the environment and human health due to its tiny size and ability to penetrate different ecosystems. “When ingested, these particles can induce chemical leaching in the body, disrupting the immune system and nervous system, causing congenital disabilities and tissue damage,” he added.
While technologies are being developed globally, such as microfiber filters for washing machines and microfiber capture devices, little effort has been made in India in this direction. “While threaded PET bottles are touted as a great eco-friendly option, these plastic threads also contribute to microfiber pollution. The washing machines we use at home do not contain any filtration system that can filter microfibers. So microfibers can easily pass through it and through the drainage system to reach rivers and oceans,” said Priti Banthia Mahesh, Chief Program Coordinator at Toxics Link.
The study also indicates that the country has no regulations or policies to control microfiber pollution caused by its gigantic textile industry. On the other hand, countries like France and the United States have mandated brands to mention the presence of synthetic material and how it will leach pollution from microfibers. “It is imperative to bring together key stakeholders and institutionalize ways to reduce plastic contamination along the textile value chain. Sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives such as natural materials for clothing should be used, promoting nature-based entrepreneurship in the country,” said Satish Sinha, Associate Director of Toxics Link.