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Current issue

ELEKTRO 11/2021 was released on November 4th 2021. Its digital version will be available immediately.

Topic: Electrical switchboards and switchboard technologies, drives and power electronics

Main article
Electromobility in 2021

SVĚTLO (Light) 4-5/2021 was released 9.17.2021. Its digital version will be available 9.17.2021.

Lighting installations
Lighting reconstruction of underpass and platforms of Ústí nad Orlicí railway station

Public lighting
The lighting of park at Episcopal Residence of Ostrava-Opava in Ostrava
Outdoor lighting systems and intrusive light
Generel of public lighting 9th part
Environmental viewpoint

Nanoplastics – an underestimated problem?

5. 5. 2021 | Empa | www.empa.ch

Wherever scientists look, they can spot them: whether in remote mountain lakes, in Arctic sea ice, in the deep-ocean floor or in air samples, even in edible fish – thousands upon thousands of microscopic plastic particles in the micro to millimeter range. This microplastic is now even considered one of the defining features of the Anthropocene, the age of the Earth shaped by modern humans.

Microplastics are formed by weathering and physicochemical or biological degradation processes from macroscopic plastic products, such as the tons of plastic waste in the oceans. It is unlikely that these degradation processes will stop at the micrometer scale. And so there is growing concern about the potential harmful effects nanoplastics could have on various ecosystems. This is primarily because it is enormously difficult in terms of measurement technology to identify artificial nanoparticles made of plastic in environmental samples with thousands and thousands of (natural) particles of similar size. Appropriate analytical methods would first have to be developer. That's because the smaller particles become, the more likely they are to reach organs and tissues that are inaccessible to larger particles.

Microplastics in environment

The solution to the problem, however, is as simple (at least in theory) as it is complex. On the one hand, a large proportion of nanoplastic particles are produced by the degradation of macro- and microplastics. Less plastic in the environment, therefore, reduces the amount of nanoplastics, and here every one of us can help stop polluting the environment with plastic waste. On the other hand, nanoplastics can also be created during the use of plastic products – for example, through abrasion – without the user being able to do anything about it.

Read more at Empa

Image Credit: Empa/ETH

-jk-