Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2018NJ399B

Characterization and Assessment of Microplastic Interactions with Persistent Organic Pollutants in Surface Waters of New Jersey

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2018 Start Date: 2018-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $10,000

Principal Investigators: Wanyi Fu, Wen Zhang

Abstract: Microplastics can enter rivers through a variety of pathways (e.g., wastewater effluent, breakdown of plastic debris) and can negatively impact aquatic organisms through both direct consumption with food and indirect contamination from absorbed toxins. Preliminary results from Dr. Nicole Fahrenfeld’s research group at Rutgers University demonstrated the presence of microplastics in NJ surface waters. To better understand the effect of microplastics on the fate of persistent organic pollutants, such as polychlorinated bisphenols (PCB), poly aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and 1,4-Dioxane in surface waters, this project will perform the following tasks: (1) Analyze the surface interactions between different model microplastic particles and PCB and 1,4-Dioxane in batch experiments to determine the dependence of adsorption characteristics (kinetics and isotherms) on microplastics particle size, hydrophobicity or surface charge; (2) Study the changes in the adsorption processes of persistent organic pollutants on the microplastics under different solution chemistry conditions such as pH or ionic strength; (3) Collect surface water samples from rivers in New Jersey to verify the interaction results obtained from the lab experiments. The results will provide new insight into the potential environmental impacts of microplastic pollutants on persistent organic pollutants’ fate and transport. This information will be of interest to regulators, WWTPs operators, and the general public by providing new data on the fate of microplastics and persistent organic pollutants in NJ waters towards minimizing the risk of theses pollutants in the water environment.