The release of plastics into the environment has been identified as an important issue for some time. Recent publications have suggested that the degradation of plastic materials will result in the release of nano-sized plastic particles to the environment. Nanoparticle tracking analysis was applied to characterise the formation of nanoplastics during the degradation of a polystyrene (PS) disposable coffee cup lid. The results clearly show an increase in the formation of nanoplastics over time. After 56 days’ exposure the concentration of nanoplastics in the PS sample was 1.26 × 108 particles/ml (average particles size 224 nm) compared to 0.41 × 108 particles/ml in the control.
Scott Lambert, Martin Wagner, Chemosphere, Volume 145, Pages 265–268, February 2016