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Plastic chemical absorption levels higher than thought - study

16-Jan-2013
Last updated the 16-Jan-2013 at 11:26 GMT

Plastic absorbs chemicals for longer than previously thought while in the sea, according to a University of California Davis study.

Chelsea Rochman et al found that polyethylene terephthalate (PET) might have fewer detrimental chemical impacts for marine creatures than products made from other types of plastic.  

Rochman deployed pellets of each plastic type in mesh bags tied to a dock at each study site and retrieved them periodically to measure the plastics' absorption of organic pollutants.

Polyethylene (HDPE and LDPE) and polypropylene (PP) absorbed greater concentrations of contaminants than PET or PVC, the researchers wrote in the journal Environmental Science & Technology .

"Consistently in our study, we found polyethylene [HDPE and LDPE] and polypropylene [PP] absorbed much greater concentrations of contaminants than PET or PVC, and those are the most commonly mass produced and consumed plastics," said Rochman.