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Effect of weathering of PVC microplastic particles on the release of plastic additives to the environment


Supervisor:
Thilo Hofmann
Co-Supervisor: Thorsten Hüffer, Vesna Micić Batka
Ph.D. student: Elisabeth Kolar


Large quantities of plastic debris are released into the environment every year due to improper waste management or careless disposal. Considerable public concern has been raised about microplastics, small plastic fragments smaller than 5 mm, often ending up in the aquatic environment. Microplastics are mainly formed via the breakdown of larger plastic items due to weathering effects e.g. UV radiation, oxidants, mechanical abrasion. One major adverse effect of microplastics is the release of hazardous additives into the surrounding medium. Phthalates are the largest group of plastic additives, which are used as plasticizers mainly in flexible polyvinylchloride (PVC) and are known for its endocrine disturbing potential. Within these phthalates, di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) is being globally the most frequently applied one.

Hence, this project aims to (1) determine the effect of weathering on the physico-chemical particle properties of PVC microplastic and (2) to reveal the impact of weathering on the DEHP release from micro-sized PVC particles to aquatic systems.

This project is funded within the Doctoral Fellowship Program by the Austria Academy of Science.

Department of Environmental Geosciences
University of Vienna

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