Relationship between the Carbonyl Index (CI) and Fragmentation of Polyolefin Plastics during Aging

Evdokia Syranidou*, Katerina Karkanorachaki, Despoina Barouta, Elisavet Papadaki, Dimitrios Moschovas, Apostolos Avgeropoulos, Nicolas Kalogerakis

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    The durability of plastics in the marine environment has emerged as a crucial environmental issue. However, the contribution of several factors and the threshold point after which a plastic product generates secondary micro- and nanoplastics is still unclear. To investigate the interaction of environmental parameters with the physicochemical properties of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) films in the marine environment, polyolefin films were subjected to weathering in emulated coastal and marine environments for 12 months, focusing on the relationship between radiation load, alteration on the surface, and subsequent generation of microplastics (MPs). The weight average molecular weight (Mw) was found to be strongly correlated with the generated particles and the Feret diameter, implying the generation of secondary microplastics at decreased Mw. A significant and strong relationship between the carbonyl index (CI) and the Feret diameter for PP films weathered on beach sand was identified. This CI-fragmentation relationship involves three sequential stages and suggests that spontaneous fragmentation occurs at CI values above 0.7.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
    Issue number21
    Pages (from-to)8130-8138
    Number of pages9
    Publication statusPublished - 2023


    • Polyethylene (PE)
    • Polypropylene (PP)
    • Microplastic generation
    • Carbonyl index
    • Secondary MPs


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