Rare earths found in recycled food grade plastics

Scientists from the University of Plymouth and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign tested a number of former

use and new samples of plastic products:children's toys, office equipment and containers. Through several detailed assessments, they examined the levels of rare earth elements (REEs) and the amounts of bromine and antimony used as fire retardants in electrical equipment.

The results showed that one or more REEs were detected in 24 of the 31 products tested, including disposable food packaging and children's toys.

Rare earth elements - a group of 17 elements,including scandium, yttrium, lanthanum and lanthanides. They show a great similarity between chemical and some physical properties, which is explained by the almost identical structure of the outer electronic levels of their atoms.

The study authors suggested that the detectionREEs in washed ashore marine plastic prove the fact of widespread pollution by them. Moreover, we are talking about both modern environmentally friendly plastics and outdated ones.

Research published in Science of the Total Environment, is the first systematic studya complete set of REEs in a wide range of consumer plastics. Although they have previously been found in a variety of environments, including groundwater, soils and the atmosphere, the study demonstrates widespread REE contamination of the plastosphere that does not appear to be associated with a single source or activity.

The health effects of chronic exposure to small amounts of these metals are unknown.

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