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Journal of Molecular Liquids
Volume 351, 2022, 118641

Microplastics as radionuclide (U-232) carriers

Ioannis Ioannidisa, Ioannis Anastopoulosb, Ioannis Pashalidisa

Department of Chemistry, University of Cyprus, P.O. Box 20537, Nicosia Cy-1678, Cyprus.

Abstract

The adsorption of radionuclides by microplastics (MPs) has been investigated in de-ionized water and seawater after contamination of the test solutions with ultra-trace levels of U-232. The microplastics used were polyethylene (PE), polyamide naylon (PN6) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and the experiments included the effect of pH, contact time and particle size. According to the evaluation of the experimental data obtained (e.g. partition coefficient values, Kd) the sorption efficiency differs significantly from one microplastic to another, the solution pH determines to a large degree the sorption efficiency and the sorption kinetics is basically determined by the radionuclide mass transfer to the surface. In addition, in seawater the adsorption efficiency declines further due to the increased salinity and the presence of competing species. Nevertheless, even under seawater conditions the sorption affinity of the MPs for the radionuclide are significantly higher than those suggested for seawater sediments indicating the cardinal role of microplastics as radionuclide carriers in seawater and other aquatic environments.

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