Assessment of toxicity and biodegradability of poly(vinyl alcohol)-based materials in marine water
UNIVERSAL IDENTIFIER: http://hdl.handle.net/11093/2674
EDITED VERSION: https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4360/13/21/3742
UNESCO SUBJECT: 2510.01 Oceanografía Biológica ; 3308.06 Regeneración del Agua ; 3308.11 Control de la Contaminación del Agua
DOCUMENT TYPE: article
Due to the continuous rise in conventional plastic production and the deficient management of plastic waste, industry is developing alternative plastic products made of biodegradable or biobased polymers. The challenge nowadays is to create a new product that combines the advantages of conventional plastics with environmentally friendly properties. This study focuses on the assessment of the potential impact that polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)-based polymers may have once they are released into the marine environment, in terms of biodegradation in seawater (assessed by the percentage of the Theoretical Oxygen Demand, or % ThOD, of each compound) and aquatic toxicity, according to the standard toxicity test using Paracentrotus lividus larvae. We have tested three different materials: two glycerol-containing PVA based ones, and another made from pure PVA. Biodegradation of PVA under marine conditions without an acclimated inoculum seems to be negligible, and it slightly improves when the polymer is combined with glycerol, with a 5.3 and 8.4% ThOD achieved after a period of 28 days. Toxicity of pure PVA was also negligible (<1 toxic units, TU), but slightly increases when the material included glycerol (2.2 and 2.3 TU). These results may contribute to a better assessment of the behavior of PVA-based polymers in marine environments. Given the low biodegradation rates obtained for the tested compounds, PVA polymers still require further study in order to develop materials that are truly degradable in real marine scenarios.
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