Nanoplastics adsorb toxic chemicals up to 100 times stronger than microplastics. This follows from recent research at IMARES and the Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management group. PhD student Ilona Velzeboer measured the adsorption of toxic chemicals to microplastics, nanoplastics, and other nanoparticles such as carbon nanotubes and fullerenes. This way, a good comparison with the nanoplastics could be made.
Photo: Nanopolystyrene (abbreviated Nano-PS, see photo) is a synthetic aromatic polymer made from the monomer styrene, a liquid petrochemical. Nano-PS comes in many forms, for instance with carboxyl groups at the surface. Such surface modifications develop naturally or are intentionally added in order to optimize Nano-PS properties in products.
Carbon nanotubes bind chemicals
Prof. Water- en Sediment Quality Bart Koelmans: ‘The carbon nanotubes are number one in the binding of chemicals, but under the right circumstances nanoplastics really come very close’. If nanoplastics would be able to cross cell membranes, the extra nanoplastic associated toxic chemicals could provide an unforeseen risk.
- Strong sorption of PCBs to nanoplastics, microplastics, carbon nanotubes and fullerenes
Environmental Science and Technology - April 2014