Monday, August 09, 2021

Microplastics: A trojan horse for metals


News Release 9-Aug-2021
Hereon study shows that microplastics can serve as a transport vehicle for metals in the environment
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon


Scientists worldwide have already demonstrated the alarming ecological ubiquity and longevity of plastic particles. The particles measure between one micrometer and a half centimeter in size. They develop in part when larger plastic components break apart in the sea or wind up in the rivers and subsequently in the ocean directly from wastewater stemming from land. Microplastics are toxic in very high concentrations. In addition, they can also accumulate, transport and release other pollutants.


“In the study, we determined that the accumulation becomes stronger when the particles become smaller and that there are significant differences between the various elements (metals and semi-metals) in terms of the extent of enrichment,” says coauthor Dr. Daniel Pröfrock, department head of Inorganic Environmental Chemistry at Hereon.


In the second phase of the test, the Hereon scientists could show that the particles loaded with metals or semi-metals almost completely released the respective metal contents again under chemical conditions, such as those that prevail in the digestive tract.


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