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Report No.

Plastic-associated metal(loid)s in the urban river environments of Mongolia

Battulga, B. ; Atarashi-Andoh, Mariko  ; Koarashi, Jun   ; Bolormaa, O.*; Kawahigashi, Masayuki*

The widespread distribution of plastic debris in the riverine environment is one of the major concerns of environmental pollution because of its potential impact on the aquatic ecosystem. In this study, we investigated accumulation of metal(loid)s on polystyrene foam (PSF) plastics collected from the Tuul River shore of Mongolia. Sorbed metal(loid)s on plastics have been extracted from collected PSF by sonication after peroxide oxidation. Size-dependent association of metal(loid)s indicated that PSFs act as vectors for the pollutants in the urban river environment. In addition, images from scanning electron microscopy (SEM) indicated not only the degraded surface of plastics showing fractures, holes, and pits, but also adhered mineral particles and microorganisms on PSFs. Interaction of metal(loid)s with plastics may be facilitated by altered surface physical and chemical properties of the plastics through photodegradation followed by an increase in surface area by size reduction and/or biofilm development in the aquatic environment. Enrichment ratio (ER) of metals on PSF samples suggested continuous accumulation of heavy metals on plastics. Our results demonstrate that the widespread plastic debris could be one of the carriers for hazardous chemicals in the environment. Since the influences of plastic debris on environmental health are major concerns to be solved, the fate and behavior of hetero-aggregates of plastics in aquatic environments should be continuously studied.



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Category:Environmental Sciences



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