Research by School of Design academics results in breakthrough microplastics testing

The research by Dr Mark Sumner and Dr Mark Taylor has led to the development of the first test method that reliably measures amount of microplastics released from textiles during domestic laundering.

Microplastics are small particles – smaller than 5mm – which are of particular concern to environmentalists because of their potential for accumulation and causing pollution in oceans. 

They could also be ingested by marine life and enter the human food chain, with implications for health.

The research has been supported by The Microfibre Consortium who work with the textile industry to minimise fibre fragmentation and release to the environment.

Dr Mark Sumner said, “Being able to reliably measure the amount of microplastics being released during domestic laundry is a vital step in understanding the scale of the problem, and therefore what action is needed to address it. 

“As well as the potential harm to marine and human life, microplastics commonly contain additives such as softeners or antibacterial agents that can be harmful if released into the environment.”

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