• Examining synthetic microfiber waste through laundry and potential mitigation strategies

      Ludwig, Roy (2022-05)
      An emerging area of urgent environmental concern is synthetic microplastic pollution in marine and freshwater environments. These pervasive plastic particles never completely degrade and have serious impacts on the health of organisms, including humans. Synthetic microfibers make up 35 percent of microplastic waste and are formed from machine washing synthetic clothing. The purpose of this study was to investigate the presence of microfibers in three rivers of the Hudson River watershed as well as study the usage of two microfiber filters available for household washing machines. The investigation of microfibers in the Hudson River watershed consisted of retrieving water samples from the Black Creek, Wallkill River, and Saw Mill Brook in Ulster County, New York. These water samples were filtered and viewed under a microscope in search of microfibers. Microfibers were found in each of the water samples, with the Saw Mill Brook containing the most microfibers per quart of sample water. Researching the usage of microfiber filtration technologies consisted of installing two microfiber filters, Lint-Luv-R and Filtrol, onto two laundry machines in McKenna and Parker Theaters on the campus of SUNY New Paltz. Data was collected regarding the consumer usage of each filter, which included the price, installation, efficacy, and cleaning. Based on these evaluations, the Filtrol was regarded as the better filter for home and campus use.