Title

Microplastics from Mats: The Creation of Microplastics in the Environment

School Name

Chapin High School

Grade Level

12th Grade

Presentation Topic

Environmental Science

Presentation Type

Non-Mentored

Abstract

Previous research has suggested that abiotic factors, such as UV irradiation, facilitate the degradation of artificial polymers, such as polyethylene, into microplastics. However, current research has not yet explored how varying abiotic factors impact the degradation of polyethylene foam from a water mat, recreational mats that are frequently seen and used on bodies of water, including Lake Murray, SC. Microplastics can be vectors for organic and inorganic pollutants and substances, which means they can have detrimental effects on human, animal, and ecosystem health. These tiny pollutants can have a major impact due to their widespread nature, which is why it is important to understand the manner in which they are created. In order to test the impact of abiotic factors on the degradation of the water mat, an experimental method was employed. 12 treatment groups and 6 control groups were tested. Experimental treatments consisted of UV irradiation and thermal radiation from 2 separate lamps. 6 samples of polyethylene were exposed to different conditions under each lamp. These environmental conditions consisted of lake water, pure water, and no water with two samples in each: one subjected to mechanical abrasion and the other without mechanical abrasion. The amount of microplastics were collected from each sample every two weeks. The individual samples were then manually counted using a handheld tally counter in order to quantify the dependent variable. Multiple ANOVA tests were conducted, however only one that analyzed the groupings of light treatment with consideration for mechanical abrasion produced a significant p-value (p=0.006) conveying a significant difference between the number of microplastics created from each grouping. Further analysis of graphs and standard errors produced by the statistical test revealed that UV exposure with mechanical abrasion created the most microplastics out of the groupings.

Location

BS 349

Start Date

3-25-2023 9:30 AM

Presentation Format

Written Only

Group Project

No

COinS
 
Mar 25th, 9:30 AM

Microplastics from Mats: The Creation of Microplastics in the Environment

BS 349

Previous research has suggested that abiotic factors, such as UV irradiation, facilitate the degradation of artificial polymers, such as polyethylene, into microplastics. However, current research has not yet explored how varying abiotic factors impact the degradation of polyethylene foam from a water mat, recreational mats that are frequently seen and used on bodies of water, including Lake Murray, SC. Microplastics can be vectors for organic and inorganic pollutants and substances, which means they can have detrimental effects on human, animal, and ecosystem health. These tiny pollutants can have a major impact due to their widespread nature, which is why it is important to understand the manner in which they are created. In order to test the impact of abiotic factors on the degradation of the water mat, an experimental method was employed. 12 treatment groups and 6 control groups were tested. Experimental treatments consisted of UV irradiation and thermal radiation from 2 separate lamps. 6 samples of polyethylene were exposed to different conditions under each lamp. These environmental conditions consisted of lake water, pure water, and no water with two samples in each: one subjected to mechanical abrasion and the other without mechanical abrasion. The amount of microplastics were collected from each sample every two weeks. The individual samples were then manually counted using a handheld tally counter in order to quantify the dependent variable. Multiple ANOVA tests were conducted, however only one that analyzed the groupings of light treatment with consideration for mechanical abrasion produced a significant p-value (p=0.006) conveying a significant difference between the number of microplastics created from each grouping. Further analysis of graphs and standard errors produced by the statistical test revealed that UV exposure with mechanical abrasion created the most microplastics out of the groupings.