Additional microplastics are released by washing machine's delicate cycle: Study

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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.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. A washing machine, delicate wash cycle icon and microplastic fibers
2. How the scientists tested for the microplastics
3. The amount of microplastics released in a delicate washing cycle in comparison to a standard washing cycle
4. Why the delicate wash cycle causes more microplastics to be released

VOICEOVER (in English):
"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."

"Citing the study, the Irish Times reports that a delicate wash cycle released approximately 1.4 million microplastics."

"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."

SOURCES: The Guardian, Irish Times, Environmental Science and Technology, Newcastle University
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/26/vicious-cycle-delicate-wash-releases-more-plastic-microfibres
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/science/delicate-laundry-setting-releases-more-microfibres-than-regular-wash-study-1.4031072
https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.est.9b03022
https://pubs.acs.org/doi/suppl/10.1021/acs.est.9b03022/suppl_file/es9b03022_si_001.pdf
https://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/articles/latest/2019/09/microfibres/