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Mar Environ Res. 2008 May;65(4):283-90. doi: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2007.11.005. Epub 2007 Nov 23.

Testing phenanthrene distribution properties of virgin plastic pellets and plastic eroded pellets found on Lesvos island beaches (Greece).

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Department of Chemistry, University of Patras, Rio, Greece.


Plastic pellets have been characterized as toxic pollutant carriers throughout the world oceans and coastal zones. However, their sorptive properties are not yet well understood. In the present study, virgin pellets and plastic eroded pellets (PEP) are used to elucidate their distribution characteristics through distribution kinetic studies. Distribution occurs through diffusion into the pellet for all materials (polyethylene, polyoxymethylene, and PEP) except polypropylene (PP). Although diffusion into the polymer happens with similar rates for both freshwater and saltwater external solutions, apparent diffusion is dependent on the solution salinity because it results in higher equilibrium distribution coefficients. Distribution coefficient into the PEP is higher and diffusion is slower than into the virgin materials. This is attributed to increased crystallinity of the PEP due to weathering. PP demonstrates diffusion rates that are increased by salinity and is apparently faster than into the other polymers suggesting a surface diffusion process.

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