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Prof. Francesca Modugno, Dr. Jacopo La Nasa

Title of the PhD project:
Study of the fate and interactions of microplastics and nanoplastics in the environment

Abstract of the PhD project:
The massive global production of synthetic polymers since the 1950s has resulted today in plastic pollution being a global environmental threat. Microplastics (MPs, 1 μm–5 mm) and nanoplastics (NPs, <1 µm) have been detected in all the main environmental compartments, posing concerning environmental and health risks (both physical and chemical). Their small size not only makes them easily ingested by different marine organisms but also favors degradation processes, leading to the release of adsorbed organic pollutants and potentially harmful chemicals (e.g. degradation products and additives), effects still far from being clearly assessed. International scientific research is currently focused on the development of harmonized analytical techniques suitable to identify and quantify MPs in environmental samples.
The PhD project will focus on the optimization of analytical pyrolysis-based techniques coupled to mass spectrometry detection for the quali-quantitative analysis of MPs and NPs to support the better understanding of their fate, degradation processes, interactions and effects on the ecosystem. This will be achieved exploiting the potential of multi-shot analytical pyrolysis and investigating not only MPs themselves, but also non polymeric organic components associated to MPs (pollutants, additives) and implementing the obtained results with spectroscopic analysis and different chromatographic techniques.

• J. La Nasa, G. Biale, F. Modugno, A. Ceccarini, S. Giannarelli, “Magic extraction: solid-phase extraction and analytical pyrolysis to study polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon and polychlorinated biphenyls in freshwater”, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 2022, 29, 64252 – 64258.
• V. Menicagli, E. Balestri, G. Biale, A. Corti, J. La Nasa, F. Modugno, V. Castelvetro, C. Lardicci, “Leached degradation products from beached microplastics: A potential threat to coastal dune plants”, Chemosphere, 2022, 303, 135287.
• G. Biale, J. La Nasa, M. Mattonai, A. Corti, V. Castelvetro, F. Modugno, “Seeping plastics: Potentially harmful molecular fragments leaching out from microplastics during accelerated ageing in seawater”, Water Research, 2022, 219, 118521.
• F. Saliu, G. Biale, C. Raguso, J. La Nasa, I. Degano, D. Seveso, P. Galli, M. Lasagni, F. Modugno, “Detection of plastic particles in marine sponges by a combined infrared micro-spectroscopy and pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry approach”, Science of The Total Environment, 2022, 819, 152965.
• G. Biale, J. La Nasa, M. Mattonai, A. Corti, V. Vinciguerra, V. Castelvetro, F. Modugno, “ A Systematic Study on the Degradation Products Generated from Artificially Aged Microplastics”, Polymers, 2021, 13, 1997.
• V. Castelvetro, A. Corti, G. Biale, A. Ceccarini, I. Degano, J. La Nasa, T. Lomonaco, A. Manariti, E. Manco, F. Modugno, V. Vinciguerra, “New methodologies for the detection, identification, and quantification of microplastics and their environmental degradation by-products”, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 2021, 28, 46764-46780.
• J. La Nasa, G. Biale, M. Mattonai, F. Modugno, “Microwave-assisted solvent extraction and double-shot analytical pyrolysis for the quali-quantitation of plasticizers and microplastics in beach sand samples”, Journal of Hazardous Materials, 2021, 401, 123287.
• J. La Nasa, G. Biale, D. Fabbri, F. Modugno, “A review on challenges and developments of analytical pyrolysis and other thermoanalytical techniques for the quali-quantitative determination of microplastics”, Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis, 2020, 149, 104841.

Oral communications at conferences:
• G. Biale, J. La Nasa, M. Mattonai, A. Corti, V. Castelvetro, F. Modugno, “Potentially harmful organic compounds leached out from microplastics: extraction methods and detection”, XXIX Congresso della Divisione di Chimica Analitica, 11-15 September 2022, Milazzo
• J. La Nasa, F. Modugno, G. Biale, V. Castelvetro, A. Corti, A. Ceccarini, “Py-GC/MS can provide a wealth of useful information on the degradation of microplastics”, XVII IHSS Italian-Hungarian Symposium on Spectrochemistry - Current approaches in Health and Environmental Protection, 14-18 June 2021, Torino

Poster communications at conferences:
• G. Biale, J. La Nasa, M. Mattonai, A. Corti, V. Castelvetro, F. Modugno, “Detection of potentially harmful compounds leaching out from microplastics in seawater during accelerated aging”, CFF2022 Chemistry for the Future international Conference, 29 June-1 July 2022, Pisa
• G. Biale, F. Saliu, C. Raguso, J. La Nasa, I. Degano, D. Seveso, P. Galli, M. Lasagni, F. Modugno, “Pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and microspectroscopy to detect micro- and nanoplastics in marine sponges”, PYRO2022 23rd edition of the International Conference on Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis, 15-20 May 2022, Ghent
• G. Biale, J. La Nasa, A. Corti, V. Castelvetro, M. Mattonai, F. Modugno, “Py-GC-MS to investigate microplastics and their degradation products in the environment”, 2021 #RSCPoster Twitter Conference, 2-3 March 2021, Online Conference