Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Plastic products leach toxic substances

17.05.2011
Many plastic products contain hazardous chemicals that can leach to the surroundings. In studies conducted at the University of Gothenburg, a third of the tested plastic products released toxic substances, including 5 out of 13 products intended for children.

“Considering how common plastic products are, how quickly the production of plastic has increased and the amount of chemicals that humans and the environment are exposed to, it is important to replace the most hazardous substances in plastic products with less hazardous alternatives,” says Delilah Lithner of the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the University of Gothenburg.

Plastics exist in many different chemical compositions and are widespread in the society and the environment. Global annual production of plastics has doubled over the past 15 years, to 245 million tonnes in 2008. The plastic polymers are not regarded as toxic, but there may be toxic residual chemicals, chemical additives and degradation products in the plastic products that can leach out as they are not bound to the plastic polymer. Plastics also cause many waste problems.

In her research, Lithner studied the toxicity of 83 randomly selected plastic products and synthetic textiles. The newly purchased products were leached in pure (deionised) water for 1–3 days. The acute toxicity of the water was then tested using water fleas (Daphnia magna).

“A third of all the 83 plastic products and synthetic chemicals that were tested released substances that were acutely toxic to the water fleas, despite the leaching being mild. Five out of 13 products that were intended for children were toxic, for example bath toys and buoyancy aids such as inflatable armbands,” says Delilah Lithner.

The products that resulted in toxic water were soft to semi-soft products made from plasticised PVC or polyurethane, as well as epoxy products and textiles made from various plastic fibres. The toxicity was mainly caused by fat-soluble organic substances.

Lithner also studied the chemicals used to make around 50 different plastic polymers and has identified the plastic polymers for which the most hazardous chemicals are used. They were then ranked on the basis of the environmental and health hazard classifications that exist for the chemicals. Examples of plastic polymers made from the most hazardous chemicals are certain polyurethanes, polyacrylonitriles, PVC, epoxy and certain styrene copolymers. The results are of great benefit for further assessing environmental and health risks associated with plastic materials.

The thesis Environmental and health hazards of chemicals in plastic polymers and products was successfully defended in public on 6th May 2011. Supervisors: Prof. Göran Dave and Prof. Åke Larsson.

Contact:
Delilah Lithner, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden
+46 31-7864912
delilah.lithner@dpes.gu.se

Helena Aaberg | idw
Further information:
http://hdl.handle.net/2077/24978
http://www.gu.se

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The secret sulfate code that lets the bad Tau in
16.07.2018 | American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

nachricht Colorectal cancer risk factors decrypted
16.07.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Stoffwechselforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nano-kirigami: 'Paper-cut' provides model for 3D intelligent nanofabrication

16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

New players, standardization and digitalization for more rail freight transport

16.07.2018 | Transportation and Logistics

Researchers discover natural product that could lead to new class of commercial herbicide

16.07.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>