The presence in seawater of low-molecular-weight polyethylene (PE) and polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), synthetic polymers with high chemical resistance, has been demonstrated in this study for the first time by developing a novel methodology for their recovery and quantification from surface seawater. These synthetic polymer debris (SPD) with very low molecular weights and sizes in the nano- and micro-metre range have escaped conventional analytical methods. SPD have been easily recovered from water samples (2 L) through filtration with a nitrocellulose membrane filter with a pore size of 0.45 μm. Dissolving the filter in acetone allowed the isolation of the particulates by centrifugation followed by drying. The isolated SPD were analysed by 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H NMR), identifying PE and PDMS. These polymers are thus persisting on seawater because of their low density and the ponderal concentrations were quantified in mg/m3. This method was used in an actual case study in which 120 surface seawater samples were collected during two sampling campaigns in the Mediterranean Sea (from the Gulf of Salerno to the Gulf of Policastro in South Italy). The developed analytical protocol allowed achieving unprecedented simplicity, rapidity and sensitivity. The 1H and 13C NMR structural analysis of the PE debris indicates the presence of oxidised polymer chains with very low molecular weights. Additionally, the origin of those low molecular weight polymers was investigated by analysing influents and effluents from a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in Salerno as a hot spot for the release of SPD: the analysis indicates the presence of low molecular weight polymers compatible with wax-PE, widely used for coating applications, food industry, cosmetics and detergents. Moreover, the origin of PDMS debris found in surface seawater can be ascribed to silicone-based antifoamers and emulsifiers.

Micro(nano)plastics from synthetic oligomers persisting in Mediterranean seawater: Comprehensive NMR analysis, concerns and origins

Giannattasio A.;Iuliano V.;Oliva G.;Giaquinto D.;Capacchione C.;Cuomo M. T.;Belgiorno V.;Grassi A.;Naddeo V.
;
Buonerba A.
2024-01-01

Abstract

The presence in seawater of low-molecular-weight polyethylene (PE) and polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), synthetic polymers with high chemical resistance, has been demonstrated in this study for the first time by developing a novel methodology for their recovery and quantification from surface seawater. These synthetic polymer debris (SPD) with very low molecular weights and sizes in the nano- and micro-metre range have escaped conventional analytical methods. SPD have been easily recovered from water samples (2 L) through filtration with a nitrocellulose membrane filter with a pore size of 0.45 μm. Dissolving the filter in acetone allowed the isolation of the particulates by centrifugation followed by drying. The isolated SPD were analysed by 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H NMR), identifying PE and PDMS. These polymers are thus persisting on seawater because of their low density and the ponderal concentrations were quantified in mg/m3. This method was used in an actual case study in which 120 surface seawater samples were collected during two sampling campaigns in the Mediterranean Sea (from the Gulf of Salerno to the Gulf of Policastro in South Italy). The developed analytical protocol allowed achieving unprecedented simplicity, rapidity and sensitivity. The 1H and 13C NMR structural analysis of the PE debris indicates the presence of oxidised polymer chains with very low molecular weights. Additionally, the origin of those low molecular weight polymers was investigated by analysing influents and effluents from a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in Salerno as a hot spot for the release of SPD: the analysis indicates the presence of low molecular weight polymers compatible with wax-PE, widely used for coating applications, food industry, cosmetics and detergents. Moreover, the origin of PDMS debris found in surface seawater can be ascribed to silicone-based antifoamers and emulsifiers.
2024
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11386/4870653
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