This article will examine the supporting data for this debate and provide an answer to the question: Is microfiber toxic?
Increasingly popular in recent years is the synthetic fabric known as microfiber. It is light and strong because it is made of tiny fibers. The toxicity of microfiber products, however, is a subject of growing concern.
Is microfiber toxic? The short answer is yes, microfiber is toxic. Additionally, microfiber poses a much greater threat to your health than you might realize. You should be aware that your clothing and bedding may contain microfibers, even though the manufacturer or retailer may not always make this information clear to you.
Continue reading to learn the truth about microfiber from the experts!
Is Microfiber Toxic?
Microfibers may be toxic. It’s constructed out of synthetic materials like polyester and other things that can release formaldehyde and other chemicals into the air.
People with asthma, allergies, and those who are sensitive to chemical exposure, such as pregnant women, can develop allergic reactions and other health issues as a result of the chemicals.
The main worry is that microfiber might be harmful if it comes into contact with the skin or is inhaled.
According to research conducted at the University of California, Berkeley, people who slept on microfiber sheets had higher levels of phthalates in their urine than those who used cotton or woolen bedding (source). Exposure to phthalates has been linked to toxic conditions such as cancer, asthma, and allergies.
Some experts claim that microfiber releases tiny particles that can cause serious respiratory problems if they are inhaled into the lungs.
Finally, some research demonstrates that washing synthetic sheets in hot water will raise the level of toxicity in those materials. Because microfiber sheets’ synthetic fibers are made of plastic and are heated, they release hazardous chemicals.
Related: Are Microfiber Sheets Good?
Where Microfibers Are Found?
Globally, the issue of microfiber pollution is getting worse. 85% of the human-made debris on shorelines around the world is made up of microfibers, according to a report in the Guardian.
Furthermore, according to another study, the amount of textile-derived microplastics that are released annually into lakes, rivers, and oceans is between 200,000 and 500,000 tonnes.
When you consider the possible health risks of exposure to microfibers (more on that later), these numbers are concerning. Not only our shorelines but also other areas are impacted. Microfibers have also been found in:
- Tap water
- Deep-sea sediments
- Arctic ice
- The digestive tracts of animals
- On top of mountains
- Mariana trench
- Great Barrier Reef
In other words, microfiber pollution is unavoidable!
How Does Microfiber Affect the Environment?
In addition to being harmful to people and animals, microfiber can have a variety of negative environmental effects. Because microfiber is not biodegradable (it does break up, but only after a long time), it can be flushed down drains and into water supplies, which will cause the eutrophication of lakes or rivers.
Finally, because microfiber is not biodegradable, it can have an impact on the food chain. When animals eat other living or dead things that have consumed this material, they will ingest the fibers, which may cause a variety of health issues for both the animals and those who eat their meat.
Microfiber Health Risks
The extent of this pollution and how it affects human health are still being clarified. However, the preliminary findings don’t exactly present a positive picture.
As an example, inhaling polyester and nylon microfibers may impair the lungs’ capacity to heal. In a recently published Dutch research, scientists have isolated lung cells, and put them in a Petri dish where these cells have grown into “mini-lungs” – a tissue that replicates much of the complexity of the lungs.
“What we found was disturbing,” says doctor Barbro Melgert from the University of Groningen who was working on the research. “Mini-lungs produced a strong reaction to nylon fibers, and they have since ceased to exist. This can have big implications – if you breathe in a lot of these fibers and the lungs don’t have the capacity to repair themselves, the fibers may damage your lungs,” she explained in a YouTube video from Plastic Soup Foundation.
Asthma, bronchitis, inflammation, respiratory issues, and autoimmune diseases can all be brought on by microfiber inhalation. Unfortunately, millions of textile workers, especially those who work with nylon and polyester, are constantly dealing with these and other health issues.
Toxin Reducing Tips
What should you do, then, if you’re concerned about the toxicity of microfiber? Here are a few tips:
- Before wearing them, wash your microfiber clothing. By doing this, some of the chemicals that might have leaked during manufacturing will be removed.
- On microfiber, stay away from fabric softener because it can increase the amount of chemicals released.
- Instead of microfiber, go with a sustainable fabric.
- Don’t wear synthetic clothing.
- Whenever possible, wash microfiber before using it, and stay away from wearing it next to your skin.
- Use a Guppyfriend when washing microfiber to catch the fibers and stop them from escaping your washing machine and ending up in the rivers and oceans.
- Keeping a clothing diary for a few weeks can help you identify the specific synthetic clothing that triggers your allergies if you experience sporadic allergies related to clothing.
- sip on filtered tap water.
- Avoid using water bottles that have already been filled.
- Avoid purchasing prepared foods that are packaged in plastic.
- Don’t eat seafood.
Conclusion: Escape Microfiber Pollution
The bottom line is that we are currently unsure of the exact level of toxicity of microfibers and the health risks they pose to people like you and me.
A deeper investigation is necessary, though, into a few potential risks related to microfiber. One of the biggest worries is that microfiber releases tiny plastic particles into the environment, which can end up in our food chain and water supply. Another concern is the possibility of harmful chemicals being released when microfiber fabric rubs against our skin.
Is Microfiber Safe for Kids and Pets?
Because it is unsafe for them, microfiber is not a healthy option for kids and animals. The toxic microparticles released by microfiber bedding, which can result in a variety of health issues and allergic reactions, can be inhaled by people or animals sleeping on the fabric.
Can I Wash My Clothes in a Washing Machine With Microfibers?
You can wash your clothes in a washing machine with microfibers, yes. However, it is not advised because the fabric will discharge toxic particles into the air and water that are bad for both human health and the habitat or food chain (eutrophication) of animals.
Is Microfiber Cancerous?
An ultra-fine synthetic yarn, typically nylon or polyester, is used to create microfiber, a type of textile. From crude oil, polyester is made. Additionally, it is the final byproduct of a series of toxic and highly reactive precursors. Most are carcinogens; all are poisonous.