Effect of Nanoplastic Type and Surface Chemistry on Particle Agglomeration over a Salinity Gradient

Environ Toxicol Chem. 2021 Jul;40(7):1822-1828. doi: 10.1002/etc.5030. Epub 2021 May 4.


Agglomeration of nanoplastics in waters can alter their transport and fate in the environment. Agglomeration behavior of 4 nanoplastics differing in core composition (red- or blue-dyed polystyrene) and surface chemistry (plain or carboxylated poly[methyl methacrylate] [PMMA]) was investigated across a salinity gradient. No agglomeration was observed for carboxylated PMMA at any salinity, whereas the plain PMMA agglomerated at only 1 g/L. Both the red and the blue polystyrene agglomerated at 25 g/L. Results indicate that both composition and surface chemistry can impact how environmental salinity affects plastic nanoparticle agglomeration. Environ Toxicol Chem 2021;40:1822-1828. © 2021 The Authors. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of SETAC.

Keywords: Agglomeration; Fate; Nanoparticle; Plastic; Salinity; Transport.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Ecotoxicology
  • Microplastics*
  • Polystyrenes / chemistry
  • Salinity
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical* / analysis


  • Microplastics
  • Polystyrenes
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical