The paper was published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Researchers have developed a new method of pollutant removal from wastewater using common plastics to break down harmful toxins. Specifically, this new method may help remedy both plastic pollution and carcinogenic synthetic dyes found in wastewater.
According to the paper, the common plastic polystyrene, usually found in packaging materials and cutlery, can effectively alter the synthetic dyes used throughout the clothing industry and sewage plants. Such dyes can be a reproductive toxin for humans and animals.
Julian Eastoe, leader of the study and professor of chemistry at University of Bristol, claims the new method renders plastic white pollution a resource rather than a problem.
“This research suggests a promising approach to turn some of the vast amounts of plastic white pollution into a resource for tackling environmental damage elsewhere in the form of water materials for treatment,” Eastoe said.
The process outlined in the paper would see polystyrene being repurposed into a porous solid material that could then in turn be used to break down the aforementioned dyes in wastewater. The polystyrene material is activated using catalytic nanoparticles and then can be used to break down pollutants using light to activate the degradation.