Characterisation of “flushable” and “non-flushable” commercial wet wipes using microRaman, FTIR spectroscopy and fluorescence microscopy: to flush or not to flush

Pantoja Munoz, Leonardo and Gonzalez Baez, Alejandra and McKinney, Deena and Garelick, Hemda (2018) Characterisation of “flushable” and “non-flushable” commercial wet wipes using microRaman, FTIR spectroscopy and fluorescence microscopy: to flush or not to flush. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 25 (20). pp. 20268-20279. ISSN 0944-1344

[img] PDF (Main text) - Final accepted version (with author's formatting)
Restricted to Repository staff and depositor only until 8 June 2019.

Download (176kB) |
[img] PDF (Table 1) - Final accepted version (with author's formatting)
Restricted to Repository staff and depositor only until 8 June 2019.

Download (44kB) |
[img] PDF (Fig 1) - Final accepted version (with author's formatting)
Restricted to Repository staff and depositor only until 8 June 2019.

Download (146kB) |
[img] PDF (Fig 2) - Final accepted version (with author's formatting)
Restricted to Repository staff and depositor only until 8 June 2019.

Download (131kB) |
[img] PDF (Fig 3) - Final accepted version (with author's formatting)
Restricted to Repository staff and depositor only until 8 June 2019.

Download (1MB) |
[img] PDF (Fig 4) - Final accepted version (with author's formatting)
Restricted to Repository staff and depositor only until 8 June 2019.

Download (692kB) |
[img] PDF (Fig 5) - Final accepted version (with author's formatting)
Restricted to Repository staff and depositor only until 8 June 2019.

Download (107kB) |

Abstract

The introduction to the market of wet wipes, advertised and labelled as “flushable”, has been the subject of controversy due to their perceived potential to block sewer systems as observed with other non-woven cloths such as traditional non-flushable wipes. Non-woven cloths that enter wastewater systems can find their way into the aquatic environment via wastewater effluents and it has been suggested that the breakdown of these fabrics can release materials such as microplastics into the environment. Worldwide research has revealed the alarming number of aquatic organisms affected by the presence of plastic debris in the aquatic environment harbouring a potential risk to humans through the introduction of microplastics into the food chains. However, the actual material composition of flushable wipes, their fate and impacts in the aquatic environment have not yet been scientifically studied. This paper investigates the fibre composition of flushable and non-flushable wipes, specifically with regard to synthetic polymer material, using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) and microRaman spectroscopy along with fluorescence microscopy. The study demonstrated the presence of polyester (polyethylene terephthalate, (PET)), high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polyethylene/vinyl acetate (PEVA/EVA) in some flushable wipes and PET in all non-flushable. Other polymers such us polypropylene (PP), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), expanded polystyrene (EPS) and polyurethane (PU) were also identified as potential components in the flushable material. Hence, commercially available wet wipes labelled as flushable could also be considered as a possible source of microplastic fibres in the wastewater streams and, if not retained, in the environment.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Natural Sciences
Item ID: 24353
Notes on copyright: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research. The final authenticated version is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11356-018-2400-9
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Leonardo Pantoja Munoz
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2018 09:02
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2018 12:49
URI: http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/24353

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item

Full text downloads (NB count will be zero if no full text documents are attached to the record)

Downloads per month over the past year