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Biodegradation of polystyrene (PS) and polyethylene (PE) film after exposure to UV radiation

Protopapadaki Antonia-Roxani

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Year 2019
Type of Item Master Thesis
Bibliographic Citation Antonia-Roxani Protopapadaki, "Biodegradation of polystyrene (PS) and polyethylene (PE) film after exposure to UV radiation", Master Thesis, School of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Crete, Chania, Greece, 2019
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Plastics have evolved into a necessary component of contemporary human life. However their use increases environmental issues concerning plastic debris accumulation due to their durability and longevity. Plastic pollution is established world widely even in remote environmental compartments including soil, compost, oceans and arctic ice. Plastic wastes are subsequently aged resulting in fragmentation and eventually formation of microplastics. The toxic effects that plastics have on wildlife are of great concern. Therefore, researchers are motivated to evaluate ways of biodegradation of synthetic polymers. Biodegradation is determined by different factors that include polymer characteristics, microbial composition, and environmental conditions. Polyethylene and polystyrene are included in the most widely utilized thermoplastics, especially in packaging industry. They are considered non-biodegradable, however recent field studies have proven that biodegradation with selected microbial strains may become a possible option. In the present thesis, low density polyethylene (LDPE), high density polyethylene (HDPE) and polystyrene (PS) films of equal dimensions were subjected to 4 months abiotic aging by exposure to UV lamps. They were subsequently incubated with bacterial communities in sterile seawater for 4 months. Continuous measurements were performed each month which included analysis of cell formation, protein and hydrocarbon content of the aqueous medium and the biofilm formed on the surfaces of the plastics.

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