Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 22, pp 23027–23036 | Cite as

Effects of soil environmental factors and UV aging on Cu2+ adsorption on microplastics

  • Jie Yang
  • Long CangEmail author
  • Qian Sun
  • Ge Dong
  • Syed Tahir Ata-Ul-Karim
  • Dongmei Zhou
Research Article


Microplastics (MPs) in natural environments have attracted lots of attention. Although the quantity of MPs present in terrene is much higher than that in aquatic environment, few studies have investigated the chemical behavior of MPs in terrestrial environment. This study investigate the Cu2+ (as a model heavy metal) adsorption capacity of six kinds of MPs (polyamide-6 (PA), polyethylene (PE), polystyrene (PS), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)) in batch adsorption experiments and the effects of different soil environmental factors, including pH and the presence of cations and low-molecular-weight organic acids (LMWOAs), as well as ultraviolet (UV) aging. The Cu2+ adsorption capacities of PA and PMMA were higher than those of other MPs and their maximum equilibrium adsorption capacities (estimated by the Langmuir adsorption equation) were 323.6 μg/g ± 38.2 and 41.03 ± 1.78 μg/g, respectively. The Cu2+ adsorption on MPs was affected by pH, and the greatest amount of Cu2+ adsorbed on PA and PMMA was observed at pH = 6 and pH = 7, respectively. The presence of Ca2+ or Mg2+ inhibited Cu2+ adsorption by MPs, due to competition for the adsorption sites. Moreover, Cu2+ adsorption by MPs was affected by various types of LMWOAs. The Cu2+ adsorption on PA was significantly reduced by citric acid, followed by oxalic acid, and oxalic acid was particularly evident for Cu2+ adsorption on PMMA. UV aging (200 h) had different effect on Cu2+ adsorption on MPs and it depends on the change of carbonyl index. Results demonstrate that soil environmental factors can change the ability of different MPs to adsorb Cu2+ and affect the transport of pollutants as carriers.


Microplastics Adsorption Copper Environmental factors Aging 


Funding information

This research was financially supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (41471261, 21177135).

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All experiments comply with the current laws of China. This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

11356_2019_5643_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1.3 mb)
ESM 1 (DOC 1346 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Soil Environment and Pollution Remediation, Institute of Soil ScienceChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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