Plastics News - Show Daily - October 20, 2022 - 12

12 * Plastics News, October 20, 2022
SHOW DAILY
The 'Swimming
Professor' takes
Andreas Fath, a chemistry
professor at Furtwangen
University, swam the
1,678-mile swimmable
section of The Danube,
Europe's longest river,
which fl ows through 10
countries to the Black Sea.
Andreas Fath photos
sustainability
lessons from
the Danube
By Catherine Kavanaugh
Plastics News Staff
Join us in the BeOne World
of Sustainable Innovation
Experience the
Difference
Hall 14 A16/A18
To bring attention to water
pollution, Andreas Fath, a chemistry
professor at Furtwangen
University, literally wades into
the subject matter.
The so-called " swimming professor "
most recently swam the
Danube River, which sends 4
tons of microplastic (0.1-5 mm)
into the Black Sea every day, according
to research from the University
of Vienna.
Fath traversed the 1,678-mile
(2700-kilometer) swimmable section
of Europe's longest river,
which fl ows through 10 countries
to the Black Sea.
Following along on the land, a
mobile workshop gave out informational
materials to the public
attending related events, such
as cleanups, swim meets, paddling
activities, lectures and receptions.
Also on the trek, a mobile
laboratory analyzed water
samples from a passive sampler
attached to Fath's wetsuit to imitate
fi sh skin and provide additional
insights, including a look
at tire additives.
The aim was to raise awareness
about water pollution and
the dangers of microplastics as
well as enhance appreciation of
the Danube as a natural habitat
vital to the people living along
the river. Furtwangen University,
a co-organizer of the project,
provided the mobile laboratory,
public relations work and doctoral
students.
The project was fi nancially supported
by Arburg, the Baden-W├╝rttemberg
Foundation, Postcode
Lottery, Hansgrohe and Menschen
brauchen Menschen e.V.
Fath told Plastics News about
his efforts in a phone interview
ahead of a speaking engagement
during K 2022 at the Arburg booth.
Q: The rivers in Asia get a lot
of attention for being dumping
grounds that contribute to ocean
trash gyres. Were people you met
on the shores of the Danube River
surprised to fi nd out it washes
4 tons of microplastic into the
Black Sea every day? What is the
source of this estimate?
Fath: This is 4.2 tons of microplastic
each day that runs down
the Danube and enters the Black
Sea. There's more tons of other
plastic. This was measured by
the University of Vienna in 2014.
Researchers working with Andreas Fath during his swim down the
Danube River check samples for plastics pollution.
Our research work now attempts
to verify this number, which we
assume has risen because more
plastic is being produced and we
haven't made a big step in terms
of recycling it in recent years.
There's a correlation between
plastic production and plastic litter
in nature. We expect it's now
more than 4.2 tons of microplastics
each day. This is a shocking
number to people and we get
into discussions about where
does this come from, what can
we do to avoid this, how do we
improve the situation and its impacts
to nature and our health.
Q: Microplastics can be ingested
by fi sh that people may
eat. Don't humans release microplastics
because our bodies
can't break them down? What
threats does this pose?
Fath: People release microplastics.
Vienna University
researchers investigated peoples'
excrement and they found
microplastic. But, be aware. If
nature is not capable to decompose
plastics products - nature
needs 500 to 1,000 years - one
digestion step in a body can't
digest plastic. And the problem
with plastic is the additives -
softeners, UV stabilizers, fl ame
retardants, pigments and other
additional chemicals - can be
extracted from the body. Like hot
water extracts coffee from coffee
beans, POPs (persistent organic
pollutants) can be released into
our food chain.
Q: What are some of the impacts
to nature and our health?
Fath: We have research workshops
and interactive equipment
where young people can understand
how microplastic came to
be. We also present the adhesion
properties of microplastic and
the magnetic effect it has. It adheres
to POPs in the water.
Fish and shells then eat and fi lter
the microplastics and pollutants,
putting seafood in danger.
Seventeen percent of the world's
population gets its food from the
sea and in some places it's almost
100 percent.
Other research work at the
Tennessee aquarium investigated
fi sh guts. It shows fi sh eat
microplastics, and ingestion of
toxic material is higher than
without microplastic infl uence.
Of course the fi sh release the
microplastic and we don't eat
the fi sh guts, but during metabolism
the fi sh's absorbed material
is desorbed and stays in the fi sh
tissue. So microplastic works like
a trojan horse to introduce other
pollutants in our food chain.
Q: You have likened rivers to
plastic mills. How is that?
Fath: Rivers crush stones from
the Alps to fi ne sands at the
shores of the Black Sea. The same
thing happens to the plastic litter
that enters the water. I can hear
the noise of the water. The stones
crushing under the sediment.
More than 90 percent of plastic
products are heavier than water.
They go down into the mill, where
the stones crush down the plastic
products into microplastic.
You can hear this mill working
and see under the microscope.
We have small plastic bottles
https://www.jumbosteel-tw.com

Plastics News - Show Daily - October 20, 2022

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