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Journal Articles Environmental Science and Technology Year : 2020

Microstructure Characterization of Oceanic Polyethylene Debris

Alexandre Dazzi
Ariane Deniset-Besseau
Matthieu George
Pascale Fabre


Plastic pollution has become a worldwide concern. It was demonstrated that plastic breaks down to nanoscale particles in the environment, forming so-called nanoplastics. It is important to understand their ecological impact, but their structure is not elucidated. In this original work, we characterize the microstructure of oceanic polyethylene debris and compare them to the nonweathered objects. Cross-sections are analysed by several emergent mapping techniques. We highlight deep modifications of the debris within a layer a few hundred microns thick. The most 2 intense modifications are macromolecule oxidation and a considerable decrease in the molecular weight. The adsorption of organic pollutants and trace metals is also confined to this outer layer. Fragmentation of the oxidized layer of the plastic debris is the most likely source of nanoplastics. Consequently nanoplastic chemical nature differ greatly from plastics.
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Dates and versions

hal-02990067 , version 1 (03-12-2020)



Laura Rowenczyk, Alexandre Dazzi, Ariane Deniset-Besseau, Victoria Beltran, Dominique Goudounèche, et al.. Microstructure Characterization of Oceanic Polyethylene Debris. Environmental Science and Technology, 2020, 54 (7), pp.4102-4109. ⟨10.1021/acs.est.9b07061⟩. ⟨hal-02990067⟩
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