Among their results:
Top-loading washers cause more shedding than front loaders;
aged jackets shed more than new ones;
and high-end jackets shed less than the budget variety they tested.
“We found, by our estimates, that around 100,000 of these fibers can be released from a single jacket in each wash,” says Niko Hartline, first author of the paper. “Other studies are coming out with larger numbers, so there is a huge range in what people have been finding. But 100,000 was consistent across the jackets that we washed—and that was quite a bit more than what was found previously.
“The unique impact that microplastics have as a pollutant is their access to the lowest trophic levels of the ocean and water bodies in general—filter feeders of all sorts are getting these things lodged in their gut,” Hartline adds. “From there what it does is questionable … The focus will likely move toward quantifying or at least describing the impact that microplastics have in the environment. We will probably see more of that research surface in the coming years.”