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
Companies & Associations

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

TPE compounder expanding in Kentucky

May 27, 2015 3:18 pm ET

Riken Elastomers Corp. will send $22 million on an expansion that will create 27 new jobs at its Kentucky location.    More

Image

European alliance calls for 'long-term vision' to solve polymer shortages

May 27, 2015 9:40 am ET

The European Plastics Converters Association (EuPC) launched a strategic alliance for polymer supplies across the continent during its recent general ...    More

Image

Q&A: DuPont investing to respond to market needs

May 26, 2015 1:18 pm ET

DuPont Performance Polymers Asia Pacific Regional Business Director Colleen Pritchett sat down with Plastics News last week at the Chinaplas show in...    More

Image

New plan to assess flame retardants unveiled

May 26, 2015 1:10 pm ET

GUANGZHOU, CHINA — ICL Industrial Products, the world’s biggest bromine producer, announced a framework to assess the potential long-term ...    More

Image

DSM and China's NHU form PPS joint venture

May 21, 2015 10:38 am ET

Royal DSM is spending Chinaplas rounding out its lineup of engineering plastics.    More