Release of microplastic fibres and fragmentation to billions of nanoplastics from period products: preliminary assessment of potential health implications

Pantoja Munoz, Leonardo ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8364-7595, Gonzalez Baez, Alejandra ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4657-4988, Purchase, Diane ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8071-4385, Jones, Huw ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0024-864X and Garelick, Hemda ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4568-2300 (2022) Release of microplastic fibres and fragmentation to billions of nanoplastics from period products: preliminary assessment of potential health implications. Environmental Science: Nano, 9 (2) . pp. 606-620. ISSN 2051-8153 [Article] (doi:10.1039/d1en00755f)

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Abstract

Health effects related to the plastic content of disposable period products have not been recognized or scientifically addressed. To begin to understand their potential impact on the environment and human health, this study employed standardised in vitro tests (Syngina), infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), confocal Raman microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (FEG-SEM) and nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA) to characterize the bulk chemical composition of different components in period products, and quantified the amount of fibres released using in vitro experiments, and measured their fragmentation into smaller particles (nanoplastics) under conditions that mimic vaginal fluids. It was found that 12 out of 24 of the tested products contain synthetic polymers (plastics) that would be in direct contact with the vaginal wall when in use. Many of the products released fibres during in vitro tests and also fragmented to release up to 17 billion nanoplastics per tampon. These micro fibres and nanoplastics could be released into the environment upon disposal. The health implications within the body are unknown, but due to the large quantity of nano size plastics being released, public health concern could manifest in three ways: from the nanoplastics themeselves, from release of contaminants adsorbed to the nanoplastics and finally, from leaching of additives associated with the production of the plastics.

Item Type: Article
Keywords (uncontrolled): General Environmental Science, Materials Science (miscellaneous)
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Natural Sciences
Item ID: 34523
Notes on copyright: This author's accepted manuscript version is made available as permitted by the publisher's Article Sharing Policy.
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Depositing User: Jisc Publications Router
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2022 10:49
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2022 21:46
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/34523

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