From: University of Toronto
Published January 12, 2018 08:23 AM

Airing dirty laundry: Students develop new way to measure plastics released in environment while washing clothes

Two undergraduate students researching pollution have helped develop a new way to measure how much plastic is released into the environment from laundering clothes – which may be contributing to plastic pollution choking the world's oceans.

Hayley McIlwraith and Jack Lin, both second-year students, have been working on a Research Opportunity Program (ROP) project with Chelsea Rochman, an assistant professor in the department of ecology & evolutionary biology, and Miriam Diamond, a professor in the department of Earth sciences, to study the effectiveness of two different kinds of contraptions meant to trap microplastic fibres in the washing machine.

 “It’s not easy to count fibres, so most people have measured contamination by weight, but what these students have done is develop a novel method for counting that we can use to project how many fibres are being released into the environment,” says Rochman.

“We aim to publish our work to share our findings and new method, and we’ve also talked about writing a policy brief to share with people at Queen’s Park.”


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