QSPR models for predicting the adsorption capacity for microplastics of polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene

In this study, five quantitative structure–property relationship (QSPR) models were developed for predicting the microplastic/water partition coefficients (log Kd) of organics between polyethylene/seawater, polyethylene/freshwater, polyethylene/pure water, polypropylene/seawater, and polystyrene/seawater. All the QSPR models show good fitting ability (R2 = 0.811–0.939), predictive ability (Q2ext = 0.835–0.910, RMSEext = 0.369–0.752), and robustness (Qcv2 = 0.882–0.957). They can be used to predict the Kd values of organic pollutants (such as polychlorinated biphenyls, chlorobenzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, antibiotics perfluorinated compounds, etc.) under different pH conditions. The hydrophobic interaction has been indicated as an important mechanism for the adsorption of organic pollutants to microplastics. In sea waters, the role of hydrogen bond interaction in adsorption is considerable. For polystyrene, π–π interaction contributes to the partitioning. The developed models can be used to quickly estimate the adsorption capacity of organic pollutants on microplastics in different types of water, providing necessary information for ecological risk studies of microplastics.

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