Fire releases micro- and nanoplastics: Raman imaging on burned disposable gloves

Yunlong Luo, Christopher T. Gibson, Clarence Chuah, Youhong Tang, Yinlan Ruan, Ravi Naidu, Cheng Fang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Raman imaging can effectively characterise microplastics and nanoplastics, which is validated here to capture the items released from the plastic gloves when subjected to a mimicked fire. During the COVID-19 pandemic, large quantities of personal protective equipment (PPE) units have been used, such as the disposable gloves. If discarded and poorly managed, plastics gloves might break down to release secondary contaminants. The breakdown process can be accelerated by burning in a bushfire or at the incineration plants. During the burning process, the functional groups on the surface can be burned differently due to their different thermal stabilities. The different degrees of burning can be distinguished and visualised via Raman imaging. In the meantime, at the bottom of the burned plastics, microplastics and nanoplastics can be generated at a significant amount. The possible false Raman imaging on microplastics and nanoplastics is also discussed, by effectively extracting and distinguishing the weak signal from the background or noise. Overall, these findings confirm the importance of effectively working waste incineration plants and litter prevention, and suggest that Raman imaging is a suitable approach to characterise microplastics and nanoplastics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120073
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Volume312
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • Algorithm
  • Bushfire
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Principal component analysis (PCA)
  • Raman spectroscopy

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