Rapid Accumulation of Soil Inorganics on Plastics: Implications for Plastic Degradation and Contaminant Fate

Lauren N. Pincus, Ajith Pattammattel, Denis Leshchev, Kewei Zhao, Eli Stavitski, Yong S. Chu, Satish C.B. Myneni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

As plastics degrade in the environment, chemical oxidation of the plastic surface enables inorganics to adsorb and form inorganic coatings, likely through a combination of adsorption of minerals and in situ mineral formation. The presence of inorganic coatings on aged plastics has negative implications for plastics fate, hindering our ability to recycle weathered plastics and increasing the potential for plastics to adsorb contaminants. Inorganic coatings formed on terrestrially weathered polyethylene were characterized using synchrotron spectroscopy and microscopy techniques across spatial scales including optical microscopy, nano-X-ray-fluorescence mapping (nano-XRF), nano-X-ray absorption near edge structure (nano-XANES), and high-energy resolution fluorescence detected-XANES (HERFD-XANES). Results indicate a heterogeneous elemental distribution and speciation which includes inorganics common to soil terrestrial environments including iron oxides and oxyhydroxides, aluminosilicates, and carbonates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)538-542
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology Letters
Volume10
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 13 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

Keywords

  • metal oxides
  • plastics
  • polymers
  • spectroscopy
  • weathering

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