Press Release

HKBU research reveals the formation of toxic complexes on microplastics in natural environments


How diverse complexes of environmental contaminants are formed on the surface of MPs. (Example in figure: Heavy Metal and Engineered Nanoparticles)

Microplastics under e-microscope

Microplastics (MPs) are found everywhere in our surroundings, from the air we breathe to the food we eat. Of particular concern is that MPs have strong propensity to accumulate different contaminants and pathogenic microbe in natural environments, which will promote the transfer of harmful substances to ingesting biota and the connected food chain.


A research team led by Prof. Kelvin S.Y. Leung, Professor of the Department of Chemistry at Hong Kong Baptist University, carried out several studies to explore the potential changes in the role of MPs in pollutant transfer under more environmentally realistic conditions. The team first compared the uptake of different organic UV filters by MPs in single chemicals and a cocktail of chemicals. The results illustrated that the uptake of a specific UV filter by MPs in chemical mixtures was significantly higher than that of single chemicals alone. The team inferred that complexes of UV filters were formed on the surface of MP particles via multilayer sorption.


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[Source: HKBU Research]