Rapid Production of Micro- and Nanoplastics by Fragmentation of Expanded Polystyrene Exposed to Sunlight

Catégorie : Modélisation
Date :21 octobre 2020
Song, Young Kyoung; Hong, Sang Hee; Eo, Soeun; Han, Gi Myung; Shim, Won Joon.
Environmental science & technology : 54 (DocId: 18) 11191–11200.
Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is a common plastic marine debris found in oceans worldwide. The unique “foamed” structure of EPS, which is composed of thin layers, is more vulnerable to fragmentation than bulk plastics. However, the production rate of micro- and nanoplastics by the fragmentation of EPS following sunlight exposure remains largely unknown. Here, we determined the fragmentation rate and weight loss of EPS in an outdoor weathering experiment that ran for 24 months. It took only 1 month for the weight of an EPS box to decline by 5% due to photodegradation, and approximately 6.7 x 10(7) micro- and nanoparticles/cm(2) could be produced at a latitude of 34 degrees N. These results indicate that macro EPS debris can continually produce a massive number of particles within a relatively short exposure duration. The findings provide useful information to inform policymakers how rapidly to remove “likely fragmented” plastic litter from the environment.