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Sorption Behavior of Organic Pollutants on Biodegradable and Nondegradable Microplastics: pH Effects

Microplastics (MPs), chlorinated phenols (CPs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and halogenated benzenes (HBs) are pollutants that are widely present in freshwater systems. As alternatives to conventional plastics, bioplastics are receiving a lot of attention, but there are limited data on their impact on pollutant behavior. This work therefore investigated the impact of pH on the sorption of CPs, PAHs and HBs, as some of the toxic and highly persistent pollutants, on seven different plastics using kinetic and isotherm studies. The pH of the water matrix impacted the adsorption behavior of CPs on all selected MPs, with the highest degree of adsorption occurring at pH 7 for the majority of the selected CPs. The highest adsorption affinity of CPs on the MPs, at pH 7, was obtained for 4-chlorophenol and 2,4-dichlorophenol on powdered polyethylene standard (qt = 221 μg/g), while the lowest was obtained for the adsorption of pentachlorophenol on polyethylene terephthalate (qt = 25 μg/g). On the other hand, the pH value of the water matrix did not affect the adsorption of halogenated benzenes and PAHs on MPs. The pseudo-second-order rate model fit the adsorption kinetics data of all experiments. The results obtained for the adsorption of CPs on MPs indicated a lower sorption affinity of CPs with MPs at pH 4 and pH 10 compared to pH 7. The Langmuir isotherm, at pH 7, implied that 4-chlorophenol’s adsorption affinity was not significantly influenced by the type of MPs. On the other hand, at pH 7, the adsorption of 2,4-dichlorophenol, 2,4,6-trichlorophenol and pentachlorophenol varied greatly, with powdered MP types showing the highest affinity for CP adsorption. Furthermore, the obtained adsorption isotherm results imply that electrostatic attraction, hydrogen bonds, π-π interactions and van der Waals interactions, are an integral part of adsorption mechanisms of the CPs on the MPs.

Publication date: 29/11/2023

Author: Maja Vuji?

Reference: doi: 10.3390/app132312835

MDPI (applsci)


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.