G. K. Darbha

Abstracts

2 Effects of Temperature and Mechanical Abrasion on Microplastics

Authors: N. Singh, G. K. Darbha

Abstract:

Since the last decade, a wave of research has begun to study the prevalence and impact of ever-increasing plastic pollution in the environment. The wide application and ubiquitous distribution of plastic have become a global concern due to its persistent nature. The disposal of plastics has emerged as one of the major challenges for waste management landfills. Microplastics (MPs) have found its existence in almost every environment, from the high altitude mountain lake to the deep sea sediments, polar icebergs, coral reefs, estuaries, beaches, and river, etc. Microplastics are fragments of plastics with size less than 5 mm. Microplastics can be classified as primary microplastics and secondary microplastics. Primary microplastics includes purposefully introduced microplastics into the end products for consumers (microbeads used in facial cleansers, personal care product, etc.), pellets (used in manufacturing industries) or fibres (from textile industries) which finally enters into the environment. Secondary microplastics are formed by disintegration of larger fragments under the exposure of sunlight, mechanical abrasive forces by rain, waves, wind and/or water. A number of factors affect the quantity of microplastic present in freshwater environments. In addition to physical forces, human population density proximal to the water body, proximity to urban centres, water residence time, and size of the water body also affects plastic properties. With time, other complex processes in nature such as physical, chemical and biological break down plastics by interfering with its structural integrity. Several studies demonstrate that microplastics found in wastewater sludge being used as manure for agricultural fields, thus having the tendency to alter the soil environment condition influencing the microbial population as well. Inadequate data are available on the fate and transport of microplastics under varying environmental conditions that are required to supplement important information for further research. In addition, microplastics have the tendency to absorb heavy metals and hydrophobic organic contaminants such as PAHs and PCBs from its surroundings and thus acting as carriers for these contaminants in the environment system. In this study, three kinds of microplastics (polyethylene, polypropylene and expanded polystyrene) of different densities were chosen. Plastic samples were placed in sand with different aqueous media (distilled water, surface water, groundwater and marine water). It was incubated at varying temperatures (25, 35 and 40 °C) and agitation levels (rpm). The results show that the number of plastic fragments enhanced with increase in temperature and agitation speed. Moreover, the rate of disintegration of expanded polystyrene is high compared to other plastics. These results demonstrate that temperature, salinity, and mechanical abrasion plays a major role in degradation of plastics. Since weathered microplastics are more harmful as compared to the virgin microplastics, long-term studies involving other environmental factors are needed to have a better understanding of degradation of plastics.

Keywords: temperature, Fragmentation, Environmental Contamination, Weathering, Microplastics

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1 Nano-Pesticides: Recent Emerging Tool for Sustainable Agricultural Practices

Authors: Ekta, G. K. Darbha

Abstract:

Nanotechnology offers the potential of simultaneously increasing efficiency as compared to their bulk material as well as reducing harmful environmental impacts of pesticides in field of agriculture. The term nanopesticide covers different pesticides that are cumulative of several surfactants, polymers, metal ions, etc. of nanometer size ranges from 1-1000 nm and exhibit abnormal behavior (high efficacy and high specific surface area) of nanomaterials. Commercial formulations of pesticides used by farmers nowadays cannot be used effectively due to a number of problems associated with them. For example, more than 90% of applied formulations are either lost in the environment or unable to reach the target area required for effective pest control. Around 20−30% of pesticides are lost through emissions. A number of factors (application methods, physicochemical properties of the formulations, and environmental conditions) can influence the extent of loss during application. It is known that among various formulations, polymer-based formulations show the greatest potential due to their greater efficacy, slow release and protection against premature degradation of active ingredient as compared to other commercial formulations. However, the nanoformulations can have a significant effect on the fate of active ingredient as well as may release some new ingredients by reacting with existing soil contaminants. Environmental fate of these newly generated species is still not explored very well which is essential to field scale experiments and hence a lot to be explored in the field of environmental fate, nanotoxicology, transport properties and stability of such formulations. In our preliminary work, we have synthesized polymer based nanoformulation of commercially used weedicide atrazine. Atrazine belongs to triazine class of herbicide, which is used in the effective control of seed germinated dicot weeds and grasses. It functions by binding to the plastoquinone-binding protein in PS-II. Plant death results from starvation and oxidative damage caused by breakdown in electron transport system. The stability of the suspension of nanoformulation containing herbicide has been evaluated by considering different parameters like polydispersity index, particle diameter, zeta-potential under different environmental relevance condition such as pH range 4-10, temperature range from 25°C to 65°C and stability of encapsulation also have been studied for different amount of added polymer. Morphological characterization has been done by using SEM.

Keywords: Nanotoxicology, atrazine, nanoformulation, nanopesticide

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