Environmental and health risks posed by microplastics (MPs) have spurred numerous studies to better understand MPs' properties and behavior. Yet, we still lack a comprehensive understanding due to MP's heterogeneity in properties and complexity of plastic property evolution during aging processes. There is an urgent need to thoroughly understand the properties and behavior of MPs as there is increasing evidence of MPs' adverse health and environmental effects. In this perspective, we propose an integrated chemical engineering approach to improve our understanding of MPs. The approach merges artificial intelligence, theoretical methods, and experimental techniques to integrate existing data into models of MPs, investigate unknown features of MPs, and identify future areas of research. The breadth of chemical engineering, which spans biological, computational, and materials sciences, makes it well‐suited to comprehensively characterize MPs. Ultimately, this perspective charts a path for cross‐disciplinary collaborative research in chemical engineering to address the issue of MP pollution.more » « less
- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- AIChE Journal
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
More Like this
null (Ed.)Abstract Historically, the enthalpy is the criterion for oxide materials discovery and design. In this regime, highly controlled thin film epitaxy can be leveraged to manifest bulk and interfacial phases that are non-existent in bulk equilibrium phase diagrams. With the recent discovery of entropy-stabilized oxides, entropy and disorder engineering has been realized as an orthogonal approach. This has led to the nucleation and rapid growth of research on high-entropy oxides – multicomponent oxides where the configurational entropy is large but its contribution to its stabilization need not be significant or is currently unknown. From current research, it is clear that entropy enhances the chemical solubility of species and can realize new stereochemical configurations which has led to the rapid discovery of new phases and compositions. The research has expanded beyond studies to understand the role of entropy in stabilization and realization of new crystal structures to now include physical properties and the roles of local and global disorder. Here, key observations made regarding the dielectric and magnetic properties are reviewed. These materials have recently been observed to display concerted symmetry breaking, metal-insulator transitions, and magnetism, paving the way for engineering of these and potentially other functional phenomena. Excitingly, the disorder in these oxides allows for new interplay between spin, orbital, charge, and lattice degrees of freedom to design the physical behavior. We also provide a perspective on the state of the field and prospects for entropic oxide materials in applications considering their unique characteristics.more » « less
The application of agricultural plastic products such as mulch, greenhouse covers, and silage films is increasing due to their economic benefits in providing an early and better‐quality harvest. However, mechanical abrasion of these plastic materials by soil particles could result in generation of microplastic (MP) pollutants that could harm soil organisms and impact food safety. This study aims to better understand the physicochemical mechanisms resulting in the fragmentation of low‐density polyethylene (LDPE). Herein, we used pellets and films to study the impacts of abrasive wear forces on their surface morphology variations and fragmentation behavior. An innovative laboratory approach was developed to abrade the plastic surface under controlled normal loadings and abrasion durations. The investigation of the plastics’ surface morphology variations due to the abrasion process revealed microcutting as the dominant process at low normal force (4 N). However, a combination of microploughing and microcutting occurred for new LDPE films by increasing the normal force to 8 N. Despite the significant surface morphology variations of the new LDPE film due to the abrasion process; the water contact angle did not alter. Furthermore, the fragmentation behavior of photodegraded LDPE pellets and films was compared to the new plastics. The extent of MPs (3 µm <
dp < 162 µm) generation due to fragmentation was studied using fluorescence microscopy imaging. The localized stress and strains at the contact sites of plastic and sand particles resulted in abrasion of the plastic surface. According to the results, the normal loadings and duration of abrasion played a significant role in the degree of fragmentation of plastics. Increasing the normal loading applied during the abrasion process from 2 to 8 N linearly increased the number of generated plastic fragments by more than five times for pellets and more than three times for film. Photodegradation significantly enhanced the extent of MPs fragmentation. Moreover, the limitations of this study and the implications for agricultural soil health were discussed.
Urbanization poses increasing threats to aquatic ecosystems, including increased chemical loading. Of relatively recent concern is the potential of urban stormwater runoff to facilitate the spread of microplastics (MPs), including tire wear particles. Previous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of bioretention treatment systems in treating runoff, thereby reducing chemical loading into surface waters and preventing acutely lethal and sublethal effects to aquatic organisms. In this study, we aimed to determine the effectiveness and longevity of bioretention soil media (BSM) at various infiltration depths, including the shallower depth currently required by the Washington Department of Ecology (18”). Experimental columns containing three different BSM depths were dosed with roadway runoff at an accelerated rate to simulate nine water years in approximately 30 calendar months. The chemical and biological effectiveness of the columns in treating runoff was assessed by analyzing influent/effluent chemistry and characterizing the health of juvenile coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). Bioretention treatment efficiently removed copper, zinc, total PAHs, and total suspended solids (> 70% removal). Influent stormwater runoff was acutely lethal to juvenile coho salmon (88, 90, 100, and 56.3% mortality in four exposures across the nine accelerated years). However, bioretention treatment was protective of coho, altogether preventing mortality for all treatment depths in three exposures and all but one depth in the last exposure, likely due to overflow when influent flow exceeded the ponding capacity of some of the columns. This study is ongoing and will continue to assess bioretention effectiveness through 10 accelerated years. Future research should consider the ability of bioretention systems to remove MPs and associated pollutants in runoff and explore the fate of MP-contaminant complexes in bioretention systems. Although contaminants themselves, MPs can also act as vectors of other contaminants of concern in aquatic ecosystems, including antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). Contaminants co-occurring in runoff (e.g., heavy metals) can stimulate the selection or amplification of these ARGs. If left untreated, runoff carrying ARGs to surface waters could increase resistance in environmental bacteria and risks to human health.more » « less
Understanding how and why people interact with animals is important for the prevention and control of zoonoses. To date, studies have primarily focused on the most visible forms of human-animal contact (e.g., hunting and consumption), thereby blinding One Health researchers and practitioners to the broader range of human-animal interactions that can serve as cryptic sources of zoonotic diseases. Zootherapy, the use of animal products for traditional medicine and cultural practices, is widespread and can generate opportunities for human exposure to zoonoses. Existing research examining zootherapies omits details necessary to adequately assess potential zoonotic risks.
We used a mixed-methods approach, combining quantitative and qualitative data from questionnaires, key informant interviews, and field notes to examine the use of zootherapy in nine villages engaged in wildlife hunting, consumption, and trade in Cross River State, Nigeria. We analyzed medicinal and cultural practices involving animals from a zoonotic disease perspective, by including details of animal use that may generate pathways for zoonotic transmission. We also examined the sociodemographic, cultural, and environmental contexts of zootherapeutic practices that can further shape the nature and frequency of human-animal interactions.
Within our study population, people reported using 44 different animal species for zootherapeutic practices, including taxonomic groups considered to be “high risk” for zoonoses and threatened with extinction. Variation in use of animal parts, preparation norms, and administration practices generated a highly diverse set of zootherapeutic practices (
n= 292) and potential zoonotic exposure risks. Use of zootherapy was patterned by demographic and environmental contexts, with zootherapy more commonly practiced by hunting households (OR = 2.47, p< 0.01), and prescriptions that were gender and age specific (e.g., maternal and pediatric care) or highly seasonal (e.g., associated with annual festivals and seasonal illnesses). Specific practices were informed by species availability and theories of healing (i.e., “like cures like” and sympathetic healing and magic) that further shaped the nature of human-animal interactions via zootherapy. Conclusions
Epidemiological investigations of zoonoses and public health interventions that aim to reduce zoonotic exposures should explicitly consider zootherapy as a potential pathway for disease transmission and consider the sociocultural and environmental contexts of their use in health messaging and interventions.
Flexible sensors with accurate detection of environmental stimuli (e.g., humidity and chemical substances) have drawn increasing research interests in biomedical engineering and environmental science. However, most work is focused on isotropic sensing of liquid occurrence due to the limitation of material development, sensor design, and fabrication capability. 3D printing is used to build multifunctional flexible liquid sensors with multimaterials enabling anisotropic detection of microliquid droplets, and described herein. Electrical conductive composite hydrogels capable of detecting chemical liquid are developed with poly (ethylene diacrylate) (PEGDA) and multiwalled carbon nanotube (MWCNT). Due to the absorption of the liquid droplet and related swelling behavior, the resistance of PEGDA/MWCNT composite hydrogel increases dramatically, while the resistance of pure PEGDA hydrogel decreases significantly. Based on the two composite hydrogels and the related 3D printing method, a mesh‐shaped liquid sensor that can effectively identify the position and volume of liquid leakage in a short time is developed. Furthermore, a three‐layered liquid sensor to enable bidirectional monitor and detection of the liquid leakage in two different sides is demonstrated. The 3D‐printed liquid sensor offers a distinctive perspective on the potential applications in various fields for detection of liquid leakage in accurate position and direction.