Presenter Information

Hannah AlmeidaFollow

Major

Chemistry

Anticipated Graduation Year

2021

Access Type

Open Access

Abstract

Plastics are major pollutants that gather in landfills, oceans, rivers, beaches, and on land. These plastics degrade into smaller particles that may harm the environment in several ways. Toxic compounds may concentrate on the surface of plastic particles and then transfer these toxins to aquatic animals that can ingest microplastics, causing these absorbed toxins to be spread throughout the food chain to humans eventually. Compounds that absorb on the surface of plastics may degrade by absorbing sunlight in the environment. These degradation products may pose greater health risks than the original compound. The goal of the proposed study is to determine how the nature of the particle surface influences the distribution of products and the rate of product formation during photolysis. We are hypothesizing that the more hydrophilic emerging contaminants (5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol, triclosan) interact with the plastics that have hydrophilic surfaces through hydrogen bonding, causing the degradation to occur slower relative to the hydrophobic surfaces. We will test this hypothesis by comparing the rate of photolysis of triclosan on polyethylene (PE) and cellulose plastic. Performing these studies will provide insight into how weathered (oxidized) plastic in the environment influences the decomposition of emerging contaminants.

Faculty Mentors & Instructors

M. Paul Chiarelli, Professor, Department of Chemistry and Xiolmara Martinez, PhD Candidate, Department of Chemistry

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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Photolysis of Emerging Contaminants on Hydrophilic Plastics

Plastics are major pollutants that gather in landfills, oceans, rivers, beaches, and on land. These plastics degrade into smaller particles that may harm the environment in several ways. Toxic compounds may concentrate on the surface of plastic particles and then transfer these toxins to aquatic animals that can ingest microplastics, causing these absorbed toxins to be spread throughout the food chain to humans eventually. Compounds that absorb on the surface of plastics may degrade by absorbing sunlight in the environment. These degradation products may pose greater health risks than the original compound. The goal of the proposed study is to determine how the nature of the particle surface influences the distribution of products and the rate of product formation during photolysis. We are hypothesizing that the more hydrophilic emerging contaminants (5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol, triclosan) interact with the plastics that have hydrophilic surfaces through hydrogen bonding, causing the degradation to occur slower relative to the hydrophobic surfaces. We will test this hypothesis by comparing the rate of photolysis of triclosan on polyethylene (PE) and cellulose plastic. Performing these studies will provide insight into how weathered (oxidized) plastic in the environment influences the decomposition of emerging contaminants.