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 Materials, Sustainability, 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

North American Plastics Alliance celebrates three years, and welcomes Anipac

August 20, 2014 1:35 pm ET

Three years ago, the three leading plastics industry associations in the U.S. and Canada formally joined forces to create the North American Plastics ...    More

Image

Automakers look under the hood for the next lightweighting opportunities

August 20, 2014 1:06 pm ET

The automotive industry's current favorite target for lightweighting efforts is the powertrain, according to a recent survey.    More

Image

GameDay Challenge expands the competition to the recycling bin

August 20, 2014 10:23 am ET

GameDay Recycling Challenge is returning this year as college football stadiums will compete to see which school produces the least amount of waste...    More

Image

Pactiv selling building products unit to Ireland's Kingspan

August 19, 2014 3:54 pm ET

Irish building material manufacturer Kingspan Group plc is acquiring the insulation business of Lake Forest, Ill.-based Pactiv Building Products for...    More

Image

Flexible film waste-to-oil pilot project continuing in California

August 19, 2014 3:19 pm ET

A recent decision to discontinue operations at a plastics waste-to-oil site in Portland, Ore., is not impacting a pilot program aimed at hard-to-recyc...    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

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

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

More Events