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Microfibers: a preliminary discussion on their definition and sources


Microfibers are a major component of microplastics and have been found nearly everywhere, especially in marine and freshwater habitats around the world. Therefore, microfibers have gained considerable attention in environmental science research. However, there is still no clear consensus on a definition that can encompass all necessary properties to describe microfibers as emerging pollutants. Therefore, we propose a definition for debate by taking the related descriptions of microplastics and textile fibers as references. Moreover, the potential sources from the perspectives of textile engineering, including production, use, care, and end-of-life disposal of fibrous materials, are discussed. For further investigation of microfiber pollution, the gap between current knowledge and major microfiber pollution concerns must be bridged.

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We thank Dr. Qingbo Yang of Wuxi Little Swan Company Limited for insightful discussions and comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. We acknowledge the support for J. L. L. and J. N. D. of Jiangnan University.

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Correspondence to Jianli Liu.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Liu, J., Yang, Y., Ding, J. et al. Microfibers: a preliminary discussion on their definition and sources. Environ Sci Pollut Res 26, 29497–29501 (2019).

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  • Microfibers
  • Environment pollution
  • Definition
  • Source
  • Dispersive pathway
  • Wastewater treatment plants