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The presence and biodegradability of textile microfibers shed during laundering or use is an important environmental issue. In this research, the influence of common textile finishes on the persistence of cotton fibers in an aerobic aquatic environment was assessed. The biodegradation of cotton knitted fabrics with different finishes, silicone softener, durable press, water repellent, and a blue reactive dye was evaluated. The rate of biodegradation decreased with durable press and water repellant finishing treatments. In terms of the final extent of biodegradation, there was no significant difference between the samples. All samples reached more than 60% biodegradation in 102 days. The biodegradation rates were in agreement with observed trends of the same samples for cellulase mediated hydrolysis and cellulase adsorption experiments, indicating the finishes impact the initial adsorption of enzymes excreted by the microorganisms and the initial rates of biodegradation, however despite this the cellulosic material maintains its biodegradability. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Marielis C Zambrano, Joel J Pawlak, Jesse Daystar, Mary Ankeny, Richard A Venditti. Impact of dyes and finishes on the aquatic biodegradability of cotton textile fibers and microfibers released on laundering clothes: Correlations between enzyme adsorption and activity and biodegradation rates. Marine pollution bulletin. 2021 Apr;165:112030

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PMID: 33561711

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