Presenters

Faculty Sponsor Name

Amy B. Gruss

Additional Faculty

Marina Koether, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry mkoether@kennesaw.edu

Abstract (300 words maximum)

Plastic pollution is a growing public concern due to its effect on our environment and oceans. Based on the increasing prevalence of microplastics in the environment, they are now present in potable water. Microplastics can be defined as pieces of synthetic polymers that can typically be measured to be smaller than five millimeters. Microplastics can stem from sources such as beauty products containing microbeads, polystyrene foam packaging, and the deterioration of disposable plastic items. Much of this waste enters natural water bodies, which is the source of our drinking water. Little is known about the microplastics contaminating our water treatment facilities (Olabode & Dhanasekar, 2019). It is believed that current treatment technology at water and wastewater treatment plants do not easily remove microplastics. This lack of treatability allows the microplastics to return to bodies of water, and even drinking water. Achieving the creation of a monitoring program would allow for better clarification of how microplastics can be removed from our water systems. However, this would require the establishment of standardized methods and guidelines – there is still a research gap in developing these methods. Currently there is no standard for microplastic sampling and analysis in engineered systems, such as water and wastewater treatment plants. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has created methods for sampling using ocean water, which we will try and implement with the water and sludge byproduct samples in order to develop methods that could be used within the treatment plants (NOAA, 2015). Characterization of microplastics is also necessary in order to better understand the source of pollution and aid in the prevention of it from entering our drinking water. This research is crucial in filling a gap in the literature on how to analyze and characterize microplastics at treatment plants in order to protect public health.

Project Type

Poster

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Analysis and Characterization of Microplastics in Water Treatment Plants

Plastic pollution is a growing public concern due to its effect on our environment and oceans. Based on the increasing prevalence of microplastics in the environment, they are now present in potable water. Microplastics can be defined as pieces of synthetic polymers that can typically be measured to be smaller than five millimeters. Microplastics can stem from sources such as beauty products containing microbeads, polystyrene foam packaging, and the deterioration of disposable plastic items. Much of this waste enters natural water bodies, which is the source of our drinking water. Little is known about the microplastics contaminating our water treatment facilities (Olabode & Dhanasekar, 2019). It is believed that current treatment technology at water and wastewater treatment plants do not easily remove microplastics. This lack of treatability allows the microplastics to return to bodies of water, and even drinking water. Achieving the creation of a monitoring program would allow for better clarification of how microplastics can be removed from our water systems. However, this would require the establishment of standardized methods and guidelines – there is still a research gap in developing these methods. Currently there is no standard for microplastic sampling and analysis in engineered systems, such as water and wastewater treatment plants. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has created methods for sampling using ocean water, which we will try and implement with the water and sludge byproduct samples in order to develop methods that could be used within the treatment plants (NOAA, 2015). Characterization of microplastics is also necessary in order to better understand the source of pollution and aid in the prevention of it from entering our drinking water. This research is crucial in filling a gap in the literature on how to analyze and characterize microplastics at treatment plants in order to protect public health.