Accumulation of plastics in the environment has recently become a global environmental threat. Plastic pollution is also a major concern in the State of Washington and many areas of the United States. A recent study found micro- and nanoscale plastics in 94% of samples in tap water in US. Hence, there is a critical need to understand the fate, transport, and removal of nanoscale plastics in water treatment plants. In this proposed project, fate and removal of micro- and nanoscale plastics will be investigated during coagulation, flocculation, and sedimentation processes in treatment plants. This work is a fundamental study of micro- and nanoscale plastics behavior in the assessment of conventional water treatment technologies in their capacity to properly remove and dispose of plastics prior to distribution to people. Controlled batch experiments will be conducted in a jar test under a range of relevant conditions as appropriate to simulate coagulation, flocculation, and sedimentation processes. Initially, main focus will be given on polyethylene plastics. Subsequently, other types of plastics will be investigated. The fate of plastics in various water conditions will be investigated in complex environmental conditions. Natural surface water will be collected from Columbia River Water. The team will share findings with the stakeholders from several agencies in Washington. This project will provide support for one Ph.D. student. Additionally, this project supports the mentoring of Assistant Professor (Dr. Chowdhury) by a senior faculty member (Dr. Flury). The work performed will provide the basis for subsequent publications and proposals on plastics pollution.
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