NWO Veni grant for Environment and Health researcher Sicco Brandsma

Dr Sicco Brandsma (Environmental Bioanalytical Chemistry) has received a Veni grant (€250,000) from NWO for his research on toxic compounds in recycled products.

09/15/2017 | 9:24 AM

The grant allows him to study the toxic additives that can leach out of recycled products. To which additives and in what concentrations are we exposed? How can we prevent those additives to end up in recycled products? Two important questions Sicco Brandsma wants to answer with his research.

Toxic residues

Recycling plastics addresses the need for efficient use of resources in a finite world and is part of the circular economy approach. At the same time it raises questions about toxic residues that are introduced into recycled products. Plastics are highly complex mixtures of polymers and unreactive toxic intermediates, monomers and additives, such as pigments, dyes, fillers, antioxidants, flame retardants, UV stabilizers, surfactants and plasticizers. Banned toxic additives are now present in recycled products such as plastic toys, kitchen tools and rubber granulates. Some of these additives may leach out during use, resulting in potential human and environmental hazard. Regulation has led to restrictions for toxic additives in plastic products. Therefore, analytical methods are needed to screen recycled plastics for toxic additives.

Ongoing studies focus on restricted sets of single additives (target analysis), which is costly and time consuming. Therefore, Sicco Brandsma will explore ambient mass spectrometry in combination with high resolution mass spectrometry to develop fast screening methods for additives in recycled products and waste streams. Additionally, he will set up innovative leaching experiments to investigate the realistic exposure to these additives. Finally, he will use suspect and non-target chemical screening in combination with effect-directed analysis (EDA), to identify which additives show toxicity.