Fungi shows promise in decomposing toxic plastic

May 13th, 2010 - 5:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 13 (IANS) Pretreating polycarbonate plastic, source of a huge ecological headache because of its bisphenol A (BPA) content, with the help of fungi may be the key to disposing of the waste in an eco-friendly way.
Scientists pretreated polycarbonate with ultraviolet light and heat and exposed it to three kinds of fungi, including the fabled white-rot fungus used commercially for environmental remediation of the toughest pollutants.

The scientists found that fungi grew better on pretreated plastic, using its BPA and other ingredients as a source of energy and breaking down the plastic, an American Chemical Society (ACS) release said.

After 12 months, there was almost no decomposition of the untreated plastic, compared to substantial decomposition of the pretreated plastic, with no release of BPA.

The scientists noted that manufacturers produce about 2.7 million tonnes of plastic containing BPA each year.

Polycarbonate is used in screwdriver handles, eyeglass lenses, DVDs, and CDs.

Some studies have suggested that the BPA may have a range of adverse health effects, sparking the search for an environmentally-safe way of disposing of waste plastic to avoid release of BPA.

The findings were published in ACS’ Biomacromolecules.

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