Microplastics and nanoplastics released from a PPE mask under a simulated bushfire condition

Yunlong Luo, Ravi Naidu, Xian Zhang, Cheng Fang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Due to COVID-19, large amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been used, and many PPE units are made of plastics, such as face masks. The masks can be burned naturally in a bushfire or artificially at the incineration plants, and release microplastics and nanoplastics from the mask plastic fibres. A fire can cause the plastic, such as polypropylene (PP) fibres, to be molten and stick to the solid surface, such as glass, soil, concrete or plant, as films or islands, due to the binding property of the molten plastic material. Once the films or islands are peeled off in the processes such as weathering, ageing, or treatment and clean-up, there are residuals leftover, which are identified as nanoplastics and microplastics via Raman imaging, with the significant release amount of ~1100 nanoplastics / 10 µm2 or ~11 billion / cm2, and ~50 microplastics / 420 µm2 or ~12 million / cm2. Moreover, surface group is deviated on the plastic surface, which can also be distinguished and visualised as well via Raman imaging, down to nano size. This test validates the Raman imaging approach to capture microplastics and nanoplastics, and also provides important information about the fate and transportation of PPE mask in the environment, particularly when subjected to a fire. Overall, Raman imaging can be an effective option to characterise the microplastics and nanoplastics, along with the deviated surface group.
Original languageEnglish
Article number129621
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Early online date16 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Raman imaging
  • Nanoplastics
  • Microplastics
  • Bushfire
  • Mask
  • PPE


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