Microfibres Release from Textile Industry Wastewater Effluents Are Underestimated: Mitigation Actions That Need to Be Prioritised

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The release of microfibres (MFs) from textiles has been observed in various environments, pointing towards the impact of human activities on natural systems. Synthetic textile microfibres, a subset of microplastic fibres (MPFs), are reported to be the primary contributor to microplastic pollution. With the forecasted growth in textile production, the problem of MF pollution is expected to worsen and become more challenging to address. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are crucial in managing microfibre pollution as they can act as a sink and source of these pollutants. Studies have shown that textile industrial effluent can contain MFs at a rate of up to a thousand times higher than municipal wastewater. As more garments are made than sold and worn, the impact of industrial MF release could be higher than predicted. The detection and quantification of microfibres released in industrial wastewater effluents do not have a standard test method, and legislation to address this issue is not yet feasible. To tackle this issue, it is crucial to raise awareness in the industry and tackle it using a more holistic approach. With its urgency, but still being an underdeveloped research area, priorities for mitigation actions are examined where efforts are needed to accelerate. These include the need to raise awareness and encourage more investigations from industry and academia. A consistent protocol will help us to compare studies and find solutions of high impact and measure MFs in WWTPs, which can help define the maximum limit for MF releases and support legislation implementation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • microfibres
  • microplastic fibres
  • textile industrial effluent
  • textile wastewater treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


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