Sewage treatment can remove more than 90% of microplastics, yet large amounts of microplastics are discharged into the ocean. Because microfibers (MFs), primarily generated from the washing of synthetic clothes, are the most abundant type of microplastics among various microplastics detected in the sewage treatment, reducing the amount of MFs entering these treatment plants is necessary. This study aimed to test whether the amount of MFs released from the washing process can be reduced by applying a chitosan pretreatment to the garments before washing. Before the chitosan pretreatment, the polyester clothes released 148 MFs/L, whereas 95% of MFs were reduced after the chitosan pretreatment with 0.7% of chitosan solution. The chitosan pretreatment was applied to other types of garments, such as polyamide and acrylic garments, by treating them with 0.7% of chitosan solution; subsequently, MFs reduced by 48% and 49%, respectively. A morphology analysis conducted after washing revealed that chitosan coating on the polyamide and acrylic were more damaged than on polyester, suggesting that the binding strength of polyamide and acrylic with chitosan was weaker than that of polyester garment. Thus, the results suggested that the chitosan pretreatment might be a promising solution for reducing the amount of MFs generated in the laundering process.
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