Textile microplastics damage lung cells says new study
Bad news for the fashion sector came with a study released on Wednesday that claims microplastics from textiles damage lung cells. Researchers say microplastics may inhibit our lungs from repairing damage caused by Covid-19 with synthetic fibres under the spotlight.
That’s according to research carried out by scientists at Groningen University, The Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research and Plymouth Marine Laboratory.
And such findings aren't something the fashion sector can afford to ignore. After all, we've already seen how negative news around microplastics has led to regulatory action that has affected the beauty sector.
The study says that both nylon and polyester negatively affected the growth and repair of airway tissue. And with humans exposed to microplastic fibres on a daily basis, scientists also warned of the potential health risks for those with developing lungs, such as children.
Professor Barbro Melgert, Principal Investigator of the Research, said: “A virus damages the lungs so you need repair, and if your lungs are filled with fibres that are inhibiting this repair then you are in for another problem in addition to Covid-19.”
So what did the researchers actually do to reach these conclusions? They exposed airway and air sac organoids (miniature lungs) to nylon and polyester microfibres for 14 days to determine their impact, using fibres small enough to be inhaled.
“The resulting data suggested that microplastic textile fibre may especially harm developing airways or airways undergoing repair,” they said. And they focused on polyester and nylon as they’re the most abundant material in indoor settings, where humans spend most of their time.
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