Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry

ISSN: 2380-2391

Open Access

A First Pilot Study on the Sorption of Environmental Pollutants on Various Microplastic Materials


Caroline Goedecke, Ulrike Mülow-Stollin, Selina Hering, Janine Richter, Christian Piechotta, Andrea Paul, Ulrike Braun

With the drastic increase in plastic production, the input of plastic particles into the environment has become a recognised problem. Xenobiotics are able to sorb to polymer materials, and this process is further enhanced where they encounter microplastics (plastic fragments <5 mm). In this work we studied the sorption of metformin, a type-2 diabetes drug, and difenoconazole, a fungicide, onto the virgin polymer materials polyamide (PA), polypropylene (PP), and polystyrene (PS). Additionally, PP was cryo-milled and PA was treated with acid to investigate the influence of an increase in surface area and chemical modification. The material properties were also studied by dynamic scanning calorimetry (DSC), gel permeation chromatography (GPC) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). Sorption experiments were performed on the basis of a full factorial design examining the effect of agitation, pH value, and salinity. Experimental results showed that difenoconazole sorbs readily to all microplastics, whereas the more polar analyte metformin did not show any affinity to the materials used. For difenoconazole the governing factor in all cases is agitation, while both pH and salinity exhibited only a slight influence. The modification of polymers leads to enhanced sorption, indicating that an increase in surface area (cryo-milled PP) or inner volume (acid-treated PA) strongly favours adsorption. Moreover, long-term experiments demonstrated that the time until equilibrium is reached depends strongly on the particle size.


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