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Impact of Nanoplastics Pollution on aquatic and atmospheric Environments

Project description

Uncovering the cost of plastic pollution

When it comes to environmental protection, one of the greatest concerns is plastic pollution. Plastics have made their way to the most remote regions of our planet, polluting even the air we breathe. As plastics degrade, they can produce tiny particles called nanoplastics. The EU-funded NaPuE project will investigate the presence of nanoplastics and how they affect different environments. Moreover, it will explain how they disrupt various natural processes and how their effects vary compared to larger plastics. The ultimate goal is to better assess the environmental impact of nanoplastics while helping to develop strategies to safeguard against pollution.


Plastics pollution is ubiquitous and plastic debris have been found almost everywhere from the Alps to Antarctica, and even in the atmosphere. The size of individual plastic particles spans several orders of magnitude, and many of them are in the micro- and nanometre range. Nanoplastics (NPs) can be produced through degradation of larger plastic pieces, or they can directly enter the environment by incorrect disposal. Little is known about NPs in the environment, and their occurrence in the oceans has only recently been demonstrated. Due to their small size and large surface-to-volume ratio, the interactions of NPs with naturally occurring chemical species can be significantly different compared to larger debris.
NaPuE will assess the environmental impact of NPs by determining how NPs can interact with abiotic components (e.g. oxidants, light, etc.) in seawater and in the atmosphere, and how these interactions can disrupt natural processes including seawater photochemistry and air-sea exchanges.
The first part of the project will use laboratory experiments to determine kinetic constants and degradation products for NPs reactions with both sunlight, and chemicals species in seawater and in the atmosphere. The second part will focus on developing a procedure to collect and analyse NPs in the environment, which is crucial to assess their occurrence. Several approaches will be tested to this purpose, from mass spectrometry to aerosol measurement techniques. Finally, the reactivity of NPs in the environment will be modelled to evaluate their potential impact on natural photochemical processes, sea-atmosphere exchanges and the carbon cycle.
We will provide exceptional insights into the reactivity and transformation mechanisms of NPs in the environment. Combined with the data about NPs occurrence, these results will be crucial to assess the environmental impact of NP pollution and will be decisive in developing strategies to solve the problems related to plastic pollution.


Net EU contribution
€ 849 026,00
Via giuseppe verdi 8
10124 Torino

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Nord-Ovest Piemonte Torino
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (2)