INFRAMES Internship starting: Aicha El Kharraf

Starting March 1st, I commenced my research program at Duke University in Durham, NC, lasting until May 31st. My research focuses on characterizing plastic waste degradation under environmental abiotic processes, including sunlight (UV) exposure and abrasion. Over the next three months, I'll study PE and PP plastic end-products, microplastics (MPs), nanoplastics (NPs), and additives released from aged and unaged plastic subjected to abrasion. Our objectives include i) assessing aged plastic vulnerability to abrasion, ii) identifying released products, and iii) understanding their potential hazards, spanning from aquatic ecosystems to human health through food chains. Additionally, we'll track the fate of released products in the environment.

 This investigation aims to enhance our global understanding of mechanical degradation's impact on weathered plastic waste, complementing previous photo-chemical degradation research conducted at the University of Rennes, France. By combining both processes, we aim to bridge the gap between lab-scale and field-scale assessments, providing a realistic characterization of plastic waste fate and its potential end-products produced by the abiotic process in the environment (photo-chemical degradation and mechanical degradation).