PRESS-NEWS.org - Press Release Distribution
PRESS RELEASES DISTRIBUTION

Researchers find how tiny plastics slip through the environment

2021-04-28
(Press-News.org) Washington State University researchers have shown the fundamental mechanisms that allow tiny pieces of plastic bags and foam packaging at the nanoscale to move through the environment.

The researchers found that a silica surface such as sand has little effect on slowing down the movement of the plastics, but that natural organic matter resulting from decomposition of plant and animal remains can either temporarily or permanently trap the nanoscale plastic particles, depending on the type of plastics.

The work, published in the journal Water Research, could help researchers develop better ways to filter out and clean up pervasive plastics from the environment. The researchers include Indranil Chowdhury, assistant professor in WSU's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, along with Mehnaz Shams and Iftaykhairul Alam, recent graduates of the civil engineering program.

"We're looking at developing a filter that can be more efficient at removing these plastics," Chowdhury said. "People have seen these plastics escaping into our drinking water, and our current drinking water system is not adequate enough to remove these micro and nanoscale plastics. This work is the first fundamental way to look at those mechanisms."

Around since the 1950s, plastics have properties that make them useful for modern society. They are water resistant, cheap, easy to manufacture and useful for a huge variety of purposes. However, plastics accumulation is becoming a growing concern around the world with giant patches of plastic garbage floating in the oceans and plastic waste showing up in the most remote areas of the world.

"Plastics are a great invention and so easy to use, but they are so persistent in the environment," Chowdhury said.

After they're used, plastics degrade through chemical, mechanical and biological processes to micro- and then nano-sized particles less than 100 nanometers in size. Despite their removal in some wastewater treatment plants, large amounts of micro and nanoscale plastics still end up in the environment. More than 90% of tap water in the U.S. contains nanoscale plastics, Chowdhury said, and a 2019 study found that people eat about five grams of plastic a week or the amount of plastic in a credit card. The health effects of such environmental pollution is not well understood.

"We don't know the health effects, and the toxicity is still unknown, but we continue to drink these plastics every day," said Chowdhury.

As part of the new study, the researchers studied the interactions with the environment of the tiniest particles of the two most common types of plastics, polyethylene and polystyrene, to learn what might impede their movement. Polyethylene is used in plastic bags, milk cartons and food packaging, while polystyrene is a foamed plastic that is used in foam drinking cups and packaging materials.

In their work, the researchers found that the polyethylene particles from plastic bags move easily through the environment - whether through a silica surface like sand or natural organic matter. Sand and the plastic particles repel each other similarly to like-poles of a magnet, so that the plastic won't stick to the sand particles. The plastic particles do glom onto natural organic material that is ubiquitous in natural aquatic environment but only temporarily. They can be easily washed off with a change in chemistry in the water.

"That's bad news for polyethylene in the environment," said Chowdhury. "It doesn't stick to the silica surface that much and if it sticks to the natural organic matter surface, it can be re-mobilized. Based on these findings, it indicates that nanoscale polyethylene plastics may escape from our drinking water treatment processes, particularly filtration."

In the case of polystyrene particles, the researchers found better news. While a silica surface was not able to stop its movement, organic matter did. Once the polystyrene particles stuck to the organic matter, they stayed in place.

The researchers hope that the research will eventually help them develop filtration systems for water treatment facilities to remove nanoscale particles of plastics.

INFORMATION:

The work was funded by the State of Washington Water Research Center.



ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:

The growing promise of community-based monitoring and citizen science

The growing promise of community-based monitoring and citizen science
2021-04-28
Over recent decades, community-based environmental monitoring (often called "citizen science") has exploded in popularity, aided both by smartphones and rapid gains in computing power that make the analysis of large data sets far easier. Publishing in BioScience, handling editors Rick Bonney, of Cornell University, Finn Danielsen, of the Nordic Foundation for Development and Ecology, and colleagues share a special section that highlights numerous community-based monitoring programs currently underway. They also describe the potential for such efforts to advance the scientific enterprise well into the future and make recommendations for best practices and future directions. In an article ...

Young people who experience bullying are more likely to fantasize about committing acts of violence - study

2021-04-28
Experiencing bullying and forms of aggression in late adolescence and early adulthood is linked to a marked increase in the likelihood of having daydreams or fantasies about hurting or killing people, according to a new study. While research has shown that significant numbers of people fantasise about inflicting harm*, little is known about the processes behind such "violent ideations". A team led by a University of Cambridge professor tracked the self-reported thoughts and experiences of 1,465 young people from schools across the Swiss city of Zurich at the ages of 15, 17 and 20. Researchers gathered data on whether violent thoughts had occurred in the last 30 days, and the types of bullying or aggression experienced over the last 12 months. They used questionnaires ...

Drones provide bird's eye view of how turbulent tidal flows affect seabird foraging habits

Drones provide birds eye view of how turbulent tidal flows affect seabird foraging habits
2021-04-28
The foraging behaviour of seabirds is dramatically affected by turbulence caused by natural coastal features and manmade ocean structures, new research has shown. In a first-of-its-kind study, scientists from the UK and Germany used drones to provide a synchronised bird's eye view of what seabirds see and how their behaviour changes depending on the movement of tidal flows beneath them. The research focused on the wake of a tidal turbine structure set in a tidal channel - Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland - that has previously been identified as a foraging hotspot for terns. Through a combination of drone tracking and advanced statistical modelling, it showed that terns were more likely to actively forage over ...

Only one in four people experience mild systemic side effects from COVID-19 vaccines

2021-04-28
One in four people experience mild, short lived systemic side effects after receiving either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine, with headache, fatigue and tenderness the most common symptoms. Most side effects peaked within the first 24 hours following vaccination and usually lasted 1-2 days. The study published today in the Lancet Infectious Diseases is the first large scale study to compare the two vaccines and investigate the prevalence of mild side effects of the UK's vaccination programme. The analysis by researchers from King's College London of data from ...

Nearly 25% of children and adolescents invountarily admitted to psychiatric hospitals

2021-04-28
For the first time, researchers have systematically analysed social and clinical factors associated with psychiatric hospital admission of children and adolescents, finding nearly one-quarter (23.6%) were admitted involuntarily. The study was published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal. Researchers also found that children and adolescents who were involuntarily hospitalised were nearly three times more likely to belong to a Black rather than a white ethnic group than those hospitalised voluntarily and more likely to have a diagnosis of psychosis, substance misuse, or intellectual disability. Involuntary hospitalisation is a legal procedure used to compel an individual to ...

U-M RNA scientists identify many genes involved in neuron development

U-M RNA scientists identify many genes involved in neuron development
2021-04-28
Neurons result from a highly complex and unique series of cell divisions. For example, in fruit flies, the process starts with stem cells that divide into mother cells (progenitor cells), that then divide into precursor cells that eventually become neurons. A team of the University of Michigan (U-M), spearheaded by Nigel Michki, a graduate student, and Assistant Professor Dawen Cai in the departments of Biophysics (LS&A) and Cell and Developmental Biology at the Medical School, identified many genes that are important in fruit flies' neuron development, and that had never been described before in that context. Since many genes are conserved across species such as between fruit flies (Drosophila), mice, and humans, what is learnt in flies can also serve as a model to better ...

Researchers identify protein produced after stroke that triggers neurodegeneration

Researchers identify protein produced after stroke that triggers neurodegeneration
2021-04-27
DALLAS - April 27, 2021 - Researchers with the Peter O'Donnell Jr. Brain Institute at UT Southwestern have identified a new protein implicated in cell death that provides a potential therapeutic target that could prevent or delay the progress of neurodegenerative diseases following a stroke. Scientists from the departments of pathology, neurology, biochemistry, and pharmacology at UTSW have identified and named AIF3, an alternate form of the apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF), a protein that is critical for maintaining normal mitochondrial function. Once released from mitochondria, AIF triggers processes that induce a type of programmed cell death. In a END ...

New AI tool calculates materials' stress and strain based on photos

New AI tool calculates materials stress and strain based on photos
2021-04-27
Isaac Newton may have met his match. For centuries, engineers have relied on physical laws -- developed by Newton and others -- to understand the stresses and strains on the materials they work with. But solving those equations can be a computational slog, especially for complex materials. MIT researchers have developed a technique to quickly determine certain properties of a material, like stress and strain, based on an image of the material showing its internal structure. The approach could one day eliminate the need for arduous physics-based calculations, instead relying on computer vision and machine learning to generate estimates in real time. The researchers say the advance could enable faster design prototyping and material ...

Droperidol most effective sedation medication for agitation with less sides effects

Droperidol most effective sedation medication for agitation with less sides effects
2021-04-27
Des Plaines, IL - In a randomized, double-blind trial of patients with acute undifferentiated agitation in the emergency department, droperidol was more effective for sedation and was associated with fewer episodes of respiratory depression than lorazepam or either dose of ziprasidone. This is the conclusion of END ...

Lack of educational opportunities influence drug use for rural youth

Lack of educational opportunities influence drug use for rural youth
2021-04-27
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Having grown up poor in a rural village in Zimbabwe, Wilson Majee saw firsthand as a child the lack of educational opportunities that were easily accessible and how that impacted the youth in his village. Now an associate professor in the University of Missouri School of Health Professions, Majee researches the challenges facing disadvantaged, rural youth. He found in a recent study that young people who are disengaged from their communities are much more likely to participate in risky behaviors such as substance abuse, particularly in rural areas that lack educational opportunities. For the study, Majee spoke with youth in rural South Africa about the factors contributing to drug abuse for the NEET population, which stands ...

LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES:

12.5, the 1st Impact Factor of COMMTR released!

Circadian clock impact on cluster headaches funded by $2.4M NIH grant for UTHealth Houston research

Study identifies first drug therapy for sleep apnea

How old is your bone marrow?

Boosting biodiversity without hurting local economies

ChatGPT is biased against resumes with credentials that imply a disability — but it can improve

Simple test for flu could improve diagnosis and surveillance

UT Health San Antonio researcher awarded five-year, $2.53 million NIH grant to study alcohol-assisted liver disease

Giving pre-med students hands-on clinical training

CAMH research suggests potential targets for prevention and early identification of psychotic disorders

Mapping the heart to prevent damage caused by a heart attack

Study challenges popular idea that Easter islanders committed ‘ecocide’

Chilling discovery: Study reveals evolution of human cold and menthol sensing protein, offering hope for future non-addictive pain therapies.

Elena Beccalli, new rector of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, takes office on 1st July

Pacific Northwest Research Institute uncovers hidden DNA mechanisms of rare genetic diseases

Empowering older adults: Wearable tech made easier with personalized support

Pennington Biomedical researchers partner on award-winning Long Covid study

Cooling ‘blood oranges’ could make them even healthier – a bonus for consumers

Body image and overall health found important to the sexual health of older gay men, according to new studies

Lab-grown muscles reveal mysteries of rare muscle diseases

Primary hepatic angiosarcoma: Treatment options for a rare tumor

Research finds causal evidence tying cerebral small-vessel disease to Alzheimer’s, dementia

Navigating the Pyrocene: Recent Cell Press papers on managing fire risk

Restoring the Great Salt Lake would have environmental justice as well as ecological benefits

Cannabis, tobacco use, and COVID-19 outcomes

A 5:2 intermittent fasting meal replacement diet and glycemic control for adults with diabetes

Scientists document self-propelling oxygen decline in the oceans

Activating molecular target reverses multiple hallmarks of aging

Cannabis use tied to increased risk of severe COVID-19

How to make ageing a ‘fairer game’ for all wormkind

[Press-News.org] Researchers find how tiny plastics slip through the environment