Interactions between trace metals and plastic production pellets under estuarine conditions

Pre-production pellets are an abundant form of plastic waste in the marine environment whose principal impacts arise from inadvertent ingestion by various organisms when mistaken for food. Pellets also represent a carrier for both organic and metallic contaminants through their adsorption to the modified plastic surface. In the present study, we examine the adsorption of trace metals (Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb) to both virgin and beached (aged) pellets under estuarine conditions in order to better understand the role of plastic materials on the transport and behaviour of metals from river to ocean. Metals added to river water and sea water adsorbed to both pellet types with isotherms defined by either the Langmuir or Freundlich model. With increasing pH in river water, adsorption of Cd, Co, Ni and Pb increased, adsorption of Cr decreased and adsorption of Cu was relatively invariant. (…)

Luke A. Holmes, Andrew Turner, Richard C. Thompson, Marine Chemistry, Vol. 167, pages 25-32, December 2014

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