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Degradation of Polyvinyl Alcohol in US Wastewater Treatment Plants and Subsequent Nationwide Emission Estimate

by 1,2,*,† and 1,3,†
1
Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering, The Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University, 1001 S. McAllister Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
2
Plastic Oceans International, Malibu, CA 90265, USA
3
School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State University, 660 S. College Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Authors have contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: José Ángel Fernández
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(11), 6027; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18116027
Received: 18 April 2021 / Revised: 29 May 2021 / Accepted: 31 May 2021 / Published: 3 June 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microplastics in Marine and Freshwater Environments)
Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) is a water-soluble plastic commercially used in laundry and dish detergent pods (LDPs) for which a complete understanding of its fate in the environment and subsequent consequences is lacking. The objective of this study was to estimate the US nationwide emissions of PVA resulting from domestic use of LDPs, corroborated by a nationwide, online consumer survey and a literature review of its fate within conventional wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Peer-reviewed publications focusing on the degradation of PVA in critical processes of WWTPs were shortlisted as a part of the literature review, and subsequent degradation data was extracted and applied to a model with a set of assumptions. Survey and model results estimated that approximately 17,200 ± 5000 metric ton units per year (mtu/yr) of PVA are used from LDPs in the US, with 10,500 ± 3000 mtu/yr reaching WWTPs. Literature review data, when incorporated into our model, resulted in ~61% of PVA ending up in the environment via the sludge route and ~15.7% via the aqueous phase. PVA presence in the environment, regardless of its matrix, is a threat to the ecosystem due to the potential mobilization of heavy metals and other hydrophilic contaminants. View Full-Text
Keywords: biodegradation; dish detergent; laundry; mass loads; microbes; polyvinyl alcohol; wastewater biodegradation; dish detergent; laundry; mass loads; microbes; polyvinyl alcohol; wastewater
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MDPI and ACS Style

Rolsky, C.; Kelkar, V. Degradation of Polyvinyl Alcohol in US Wastewater Treatment Plants and Subsequent Nationwide Emission Estimate. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 6027. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18116027

AMA Style

Rolsky C, Kelkar V. Degradation of Polyvinyl Alcohol in US Wastewater Treatment Plants and Subsequent Nationwide Emission Estimate. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(11):6027. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18116027

Chicago/Turabian Style

Rolsky, Charles, and Varun Kelkar. 2021. "Degradation of Polyvinyl Alcohol in US Wastewater Treatment Plants and Subsequent Nationwide Emission Estimate" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 11: 6027. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18116027

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