Investigation of Nanoparticle Microplastic Analogs for Environmental Assessment
Senior Project Advisor
Metal tracers, spICP-MS
Microplastic transport through rivers and streams to the ocean is a current field of research pertaining to microplastic fate and transport. Microplastics, weathered or pristine, are defined as plasticsmicrobeads, personal care products, as well as from the weathering and degradation of plastic debris. Despite the growing research on microplastic transport, microplastics less than 50 μm have not been well documented due to the size limitations of current analytical methods. A possible solution involves the use of metal tracers in synthesized microplastics for use as proxies using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Here we propose the use of microplastics embedded with gold nanoparticles (NP) as possible analogs for quantification and tracking of microplastics for environmental assessment. NP-microplastics were successfully synthesized, characterized, and quantified using DLS, STEM, and spICP-MS. Leaching tests were performed in toxicity characteristic leaching procedure (TCLP) media and EPA synthetic fresh water, simulated gastric fluid (SGF), and estuarian sediment to investigate utility for tracking microplastics in diverse environmental and biological media. Environmental media tests showed statistical differences in average particle mass, likely due to aggregation or particle degradation. Preliminarily sediment tests indicated possible weak adsorption to soil. Ongoing experiments plan to further explore the robustness and use of these NP-microplastic analogs.
Summer, Star, "Investigation of Nanoparticle Microplastic Analogs for Environmental Assessment" (2019). WWU Honors Program Senior Projects. 325.
Subjects - Topical (LCSH)
Microplastics; Tracers (Biology); Environmental impact analysis
student projects; term papers
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