Technical University of Munich, Germany
Small polymeric particles with sizes below 5mm, known as microplastic have been continuously brought into the environment for decades. Now they pollute oceans, rivers, lakes, freshwater and even the soil. They accumulate in the food web without much known about their risk potential. It is important to analyse, characterise and indentify the particles found in the environment to better understand the effects they have on the habitat they were found in. There has been evidence that microplastic particles are able to absorb contaminants and pollutants present in the surrounding medium but it has yet to be established whether the substances are able to desorb within animal bodies and the particles therefore act as a vector for those contaminants. However, in order to fully understand the possible dangers of microplastic particles, it is necessary to study the behaviour of realistic particles that are made in a controlled environment and manner. For this purpose two production methods, milling and chemical precipitation, were adapted to produce particles from different polymers with sizes smaller than 1 mm. Furthermore, the absorption of pollutants such as phenanthren, imidacloprid, and nonylphenol, within plastic sheets as well as the prepared microparticles was studied by adding them to contaminated water and storing them at different temperatures. The time-dependent absorbed amount of pollutants was measured by HPLC-MS from which the sorption capacity and kinetics were determined. Results show that the microparticles prepared by laboratory methods are close to particles found in the environment.