Biologist studies how marine plastics absorb contaminants

By Roger Renstrom
Correspondent

Published: January 16, 2013 9:55 pm ET
Updated: January 28, 2013 10:20 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Sustainability, Materials, Materials Suppliers

SAN DIEGO -- A marine biology doctoral candidate's study found that pellets of polyethylene and polypropylene absorbed more organic contaminants than PET or PVC during submersion in the waters of San Diego Bay.

Concern about marine plastic pollution was a driver for the study.

Chelsea Rochman and another student, Shawn Kaye, deployed mesh bags with pellets of high density and low density PE, PP, PET and PVC at five locations and retrieved the material at varying intervals over 12 months ended June 2010. Portions of the 250 samples were studied at one, three, six, nine and 12 months.

The researchers extracted chemicals from the commodity thermoplastics and used gas chromatography and mass spectrometry techniques with equipment from Agilent Technologies Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., to measure, in particular, the presence of polychlorinated biphenyls and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. HDPE, LDPE and PP pellets continued to absorb contaminants throughout the 12 months and in greater concentrations than PET and PVC.

Locations included five docks and piers around the bay for San Diego harbor excursions, the Shelter Island neighborhood, Scripps Institution of Oceanography's Nimitz marine facility, the Coronado Cays community and the City of Chula Vista. Despite location variability, Rochman found relative differences in PCB and PAH sorption among the five polymers were consistent over space and time.

The study also measured the presence of metals absorbed into the pellets. "We are working on writing about them," Rochman said.

The website of the American Chemical Society's Environmental Science & Technology journal posted the nine-page study results on Dec. 27.

The National Science Foundation's graduate research fellowship program in Washington provided funds for the study with additional support from the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry of Pensacola, Fla., San Diego State University's research foundation and the PADI Foundation of Beverly Hills, Calif.

Rochman estimated about $20,000 was expended excluding internship stipends and other salaries.

Rochman, whose family lives in Tucson, Ariz., is pursuing a joint doctoral degree in marine biology from the University of California, Davis and San Diego State University.


Comments

Biologist studies how marine plastics absorb contaminants

By Roger Renstrom
Correspondent

Published: January 16, 2013 9:55 pm ET
Updated: January 28, 2013 10:20 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Celanese buys conductive polymer supplier

October 21, 2014 4:31 pm ET

Materials firm Celanese Corp. has acquired most of the assets of conductive polymers maker Cool Polymers Inc. for an undisclosed price.    More

Image

BASF targets coffee and automotive connoisseurs with new resin grades

October 21, 2014 2:07 pm ET

BASF SE is using polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), which is normally used to manufacture high-end electronics, in a food consumer packaging product.    More

Image

Plastic particles showing up in Germany's Lake Constance

October 21, 2014 1:16 pm ET

While Fakuma 2014 exhibitors and visitors occupied themselves with topics like molding of micro-sized plastic parts during the show, the presence of...    More

Image

Bioplastics, design join forces for SOMA

October 21, 2014 11:33 am ET

A polylactic acid made by Germany's Fraunhofer UMSICHT is a key part of the Soma home water filtration system, which its developers call the...    More

Materials firm realigns business divisions

October 20, 2014 1:23 pm ET

Trinseo S.A., formerly known as Styron L.L.C., is realigning its business divisions, creating two new business groups — Performance Materials an...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 million dollar plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events