Mechanistic understanding of microplastic fiber fate and sampling strategies: Synthesis and utility of metal doped polyester fibers
- Journal Article
The increased use of synthetic textiles in the last decades, coupled with recent emphasis on the accumulation of (micro)plastic across multiple environmental compartments, has garnered interest into how microplastic fibers are released into the environment. In particular, polyester textiles washed in the home have shown to release microplastic fibers but challenges with microplastic fiber analysis, including time and difficulty of sample preparation and measurement, has limited mechanistic studies on fiber fate and transport studies. In this study, we provide a method to synthesize fibers with an embedded inorganic (In) fingerprint which can be used as a tracer for ease of analysis and show the utility of this approach to assess the affinity for heteroaggregation between microplastic fibers and other particles in a heterogeneous suspension, as well as approximate the fate of microplastic fibers in batch studies using activated sludge from a municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). Total In content in the fibers was measured to be 0.2 % by weight, which was low enough to not change fiber dynamics for fate and transport studies (e.g. density, etc.) but provided sensitive detection limits by ICP-MS. Fiber length was 510 μm ± 410 μm and 30 μm in diameter. The incorporated metal remained stable inside the polymer when suspended in water and in activated sludge, with < 0.1 % In leaching over two months. In batch experiments, the majority of fibers were associated with the sludge ( > 99.9 %), with a mass balance of > 95 % recovery achieved on average across batches. Fiber removal linearly increased with contact times of up to 10 min, suggesting interactions between plastics and organic matter is a metric that should be considered closely in this and other environmental contexts for fate and transport. Show more
Journal / seriesWater Research
Pages / Article No.
SubjectPlastic; Fiber; Wastewater; Sludge; Analysis
Organisational unit09717 - Mitrano, Denise M. / Mitrano, Denise M.
168105 - The path of microplastics to the environment: fate and transport in waste water treatment systems (SNF)
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