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Article

The Reactivity of Polyethylene Microplastics in Water under Low Oxygen Conditions Using Radiation Chemistry

1
Department of Chemistry, 1710 Chapel Drive, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN 46383, USA
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Department of Chemistry, California State University, Long Beach, CA 90804, USA
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Renishaw, Inc., West Dundee, IL 60118, USA
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Center for Radiation Chemistry Research, Idaho National Laboratory, P.O. Box 1625, Idaho Falls, ID 83415, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Bing-Jie Ni
Water 2021, 13(21), 3120; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13213120
Received: 15 October 2021 / Revised: 25 October 2021 / Accepted: 2 November 2021 / Published: 5 November 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Water Quality and Contamination)
Polyethylene (PE) is an intensely utilized polymer, which has consequently led to it becoming a common environmental contaminant. PE and other plastic waste are known to be highly persistent in surface waters; however, chemical and physical changes do take place over time, dependent mostly on highly variable natural conditions, such as oxygen (O2) availability. Gamma radiation was used to generate reactive oxygen species, namely hydroxyl radicals, in initially aerated aqueous solutions to simulate the natural weathering of microplastics in waters where there are fluctuations and often depletions in dissolved O2. The headspace of the irradiated PE-containing solutions was probed for the formation of degradation products using solid-phase microextraction (SPME) fibers in combination with gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS). The major species detected were n-dodecane, with trace levels of tridecane, 2-dodecanone, and hexadecane, which were believed to be predominately adsorbed in the PE microplastics in excess of their aqueous solubility limits. Surface characterization by Raman spectroscopy and light and dark field microscopy indicated no change in the chemical composition of the irradiated PE microplastics under low O2 to anaerobic conditions. However, morphological changes were observed, indicating radical combination reactions. View Full-Text
Keywords: polyethylene microplastics; ionizing radiation; anaerobic waters; radical-induced chemistry; hydroxyl radical polyethylene microplastics; ionizing radiation; anaerobic waters; radical-induced chemistry; hydroxyl radical
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MDPI and ACS Style

Peller, J.R.; Mezyk, S.P.; Shidler, S.; Castleman, J.; Kaiser, S.; Horne, G.P. The Reactivity of Polyethylene Microplastics in Water under Low Oxygen Conditions Using Radiation Chemistry. Water 2021, 13, 3120. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13213120

AMA Style

Peller JR, Mezyk SP, Shidler S, Castleman J, Kaiser S, Horne GP. The Reactivity of Polyethylene Microplastics in Water under Low Oxygen Conditions Using Radiation Chemistry. Water. 2021; 13(21):3120. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13213120

Chicago/Turabian Style

Peller, Julie R., Stephen P. Mezyk, Sarah Shidler, Joe Castleman, Scott Kaiser, and Gregory P. Horne. 2021. "The Reactivity of Polyethylene Microplastics in Water under Low Oxygen Conditions Using Radiation Chemistry" Water 13, no. 21: 3120. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13213120

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