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Impact of biofilms in microplastics dynamics: a study of facemasks in environment

Grant number: 22/07993-4
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Master's degree
Effective date (Start): February 01, 2023
Effective date (End): July 31, 2023
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Chemistry - Analytical Chemistry
Principal Investigator:Cassiana Carolina Montagner
Grantee:Vinicius Sarracini Santos
Supervisor: Lenoble Veronique
Host Institution: Instituto de Química (IQ). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Research place: Université de Toulon (UTLN), France  
Associated to the scholarship:20/14988-1 - Microplastics and contaminants emerging in surface waters: watersheds uses and impacts on the environment, BP.MS


Studies about occurrence of microplastics (MP) has been reported worldwide in diverse environmental matrices, such as water, soil, and air. However, a major part of studies is focused on polymer identification and visual inspection, that requires the remotion of biofilm, that is defined as a matrix of extracellular polymeric substances and containing high diversity of microorganisms. This removal provides an incomplete overview in the dynamic's studies of MP in the environment as that the presence of biofilms can change the functional groups, surface hydrophobicity, adsorption and settling velocities. In coronavirus pandemic context, it turns out necessary to increase the uses of diverse disposable products, such as face masks. In the first year of pandemic, it was estimated that 129 billion of masks were consumed worldwide. Face masks are made of different polymers and through aging, can be an important source of MP in environment. In this situation, studies that investigate the microplastics deriving from masks degradation, associated with a biofilm formation, characterization, and impact of microplastic dynamics in aquatic matrices is very urgent in the current post pandemic times. In this project, the immersion of pieces of different sizes and shapes in natural and controlled environments will be realized, as well as the determination of the associated settling velocities and microbiological characterization aiming to determinate the impact of biofilms on microplastics dynamics. (AU)

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