Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution researchers find CDA degrades faster in ocean than expected

December 16, 2021 |

In Massachusetts, cellulose diacetate (CDA), a bio-based plastic widely used in consumer goods, disintegrates, and degrades in the ocean far quicker than previously assumed, according to a new study published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

CDA is largely derived from wood pulp, making it a “bio-based” plastic. It is widely used in consumer goods, including cigarette filters, textiles, coatings, films, food packaging, and other products such as eye glass frames and tool handles.

For the study, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution researchers incubated nearly 350 CDA and control samples in a custom-built seawater mesocosm. They equipped the experimental system with a continuous flow of seawater from Vineyard Sound, Massachusetts. The seawater flowed over the samples and the researchers examined their degradation over time using an assortment of techniques. Time lapse photographs and mass loss measurements documented the disintegration of these materials, indicating that the CDA materials disintegrated in seawater on timescales of months.

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Category: Research

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