The lack of harmonisation of analytical methods for characterizing nanoplastics or assessing their ecotoxicological effect under realistic conditions is due to the lack of representative 'nanoplastic models' of nanoplastics observed in the environment.
All current studies on the behaviour or risks posed by nanoplastics are carried out with polystyrene latex nanobeads whose characteristics and properties do not correspond to environmental nanoplastics. It is therefore urgent to have models relevant to the environment to understand and assess the risks posed by these emerging pollutants.
This work published in September 2021 in Environmental Science: Nano - voted best article of the journal in 2021! - proposes a protocol for producing an environmentally relevant model of nanoplastics (e-nanoplastic). They include Florent Blancho - who defended his thesis in December 2021 - and Mélanie Davranche (Rennes 1 University, Geosciences Rennes)
E-nanoplastics are produced from weathered plastic debris collected on beaches exposed to the North Atlantic gyre and in the Great Pacific garbage patch. A method has been developed to remove the associated organic matter (OM), using a process combining H2O2 and UV.
The composition, size and surface properties of e-nanoplastics were characterized by pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, dynamic light diffusion, electron microscopy, XPS, BET analysis and potentiometric titration.
These new, more representative models open up new fields of study, particularly on the ecotoxicological and environmental impact of nanoplastics.
Florent Blancho, Mélanie Davranche, Francesco-Sirio Fumagalli, Giacomo Ceccone, Julien Gigault. A reliable procedure to obtain environmentally relevant nanoplastics proxies. Environmental science.Nano, Royal Society of Chemistry, 8 (11), pp.3211-3219. doi : 10.1039/D1EN00395J