Physical and chemical degradation of littered personal protective equipment (PPE) under simulated environmental conditions

Gabriel Enrique De-la-Torre, Diana Carolina Dioses-Salinas, Sina Dobaradaran, Jörg Spitz, Mozhgan Keshtkar, Razegheh Akhbarizadeh, Delaram Abedi, Abbasali Tavakolian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Investigations of the physicochemical degradation of personal protective equipment (PPE) under controlled environmental conditions are largely lacking. Here the chemical and physical changes of face masks and gloves (recovered from the marine environment) were evaluated after exposure time up to 60 days of simulated environmental conditions. The results suggested that the polymer backbone of PPE suffers typical changes induced by sun exposure. Changes in the intensity of diffraction peaks indicated shifts in the crystallinity of PPE, possibly altering their thermal behavior. Signs of physical degradation in PPE, such as ruptures, and rough surfaces, which exacerbated over time were also detected. Additionally, signals of some elements of concern, such as Cu and Mo, and elements typically found in seawater were detected. The results of this study allowed us to better understand the degradation of typical PPE items in the marine environment, ultimately resulting in the release of microplastics and chemical contaminants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113587
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume178
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Degradation
  • Glove
  • Mask
  • Plastic
  • Polymer
  • PPE

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