Studies about microplastics in various environments highlighted the ubiquity of anthropogenic fibers. As a follow-up of a recent study that emphasized the presence of man-made fibers in atmospheric fallout, this study is the first one to investigate fibers in indoor and outdoor air. Three different indoor sites were considered: two private apartments and one office. In parallel, the outdoor air was sampled in one site. The deposition rate of the fibers and their concentration in settled dust collected from vacuum cleaner bags were also estimated. Overall, indoor concentrations ranged between 1.0 and 60.0 fibers/m3. Outdoor concentrations are significantly lower as they range between 0.3 and 1.5 fibers/m3. The deposition rate of the fibers in indoor environments is between 1586 and 11,130 fibers/day/m2 leading to an accumulation of fibers in settled dust (190–670 fibers/mg). Regarding fiber type, 67% of the analyzed fibers in indoor environments are made of natural material, primarily cellulosic, while the remaining 33% fibers contain petrochemicals with polypropylene being predominant. Such fibers are observed in marine and continental studies dealing with microplastics. The observed fibers are supposedly too large to be inhaled but the exposure may occur through dust ingestion, particularly for young children.
Rachid Dris, Johnny Gasperi, Cécile Mirande, Corinne Mandin, Mohamed Guerrouache, Valérie Langlois, Bruno Tassin, Environmental Pollution, Volume 221, February 2017, Pages 453–458