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Exposure of microplastics to organic matter in waters enhances microplastic encapsulation into calcium carbonate

Matijaković Mlinarić, Nives; Selmani, Atiđa; Brkić, Antun Lovro; Njegić Džakula, Branka; Kralj, Damir; Kontrec, Jasminka (2022) Exposure of microplastics to organic matter in waters enhances microplastic encapsulation into calcium carbonate. Environmental Chemistry Letters, 20 (4). pp. 2235-2242. ISSN 1610-3653

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Plastic pollution in water ecosystems is threatening the survival of wildlife. In particular, microplastics may be encapsulated into calcium carbonate, a crucial building block of hard tissue in many species such as molluscs, corals, phytoplankton, sponges, echinoderms, and crustaceans. Actually little is known on the efect of humic acids, a common component of dissolved organic matter, on the encapsulation of microplastic into calcium carbonate. Here, we precipitated calcium carbonate with humic acids and polystyrene microspheres. The precipitation process was followed by measuring pH during the reaction. Composition, structure, morphology, surface properties and microspheres encapsulation extent were analysed by infrared spectroscopy, X-ray powder difraction, atomic force microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, total organic carbon analysis, thermogravimetric analysis, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, electrophoretic and dynamic light scattering. Results show, for the frst time, that encapsulation of polystyrene microspheres into calcite crystals occurs only after the treatment of the microspheres with humic acids, leading to encapsulation of about 5% of the initial microspheres mass. On the contrary, untreated microspheres did not encapsulate in calcium carbonate. Our fndings imply that exposure of microplastics to dissolved organic matter in water ecosystems could result in enhanced encapsulation into the exoskeleton and endoskeleton of aquatic organisms.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: microplastic; polystyrene; humic acid; calcium carbonate precipitation; biomineralisation
NATURAL SCIENCES > Interdisciplinary Natural Sciences > Environmental Science
Divisions: Division of Materials Chemistry
Project titleProject leaderProject codeProject type
Bioinspired Materials - Formation Mechanisms and InteractionsDamir KraljIP-2013-11-5055research project
Can we clean the oceans and seas from microplastic by using calcium carbonate encapsulationNives Matijaković MlinarićUNSPECIFIEDgrant
Depositing User: Jasminka Kontrec
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2024 11:38
DOI: 10.1007/s10311-022-01433-w

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