Hawaii News

Scientists at Hawaiʻi Pacific University analyze stormwater runoff from state’s first plastic road

Play
Listen to this Article
2 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00
A
A
A

Hawai’i Pacific University research scientists and students have simulated rainfall on Hawai‘i’s first plastic road in order to analyze the runoff to see if it contains leached microplastics and/or synthetic chemicals. (Photo Credit: Michael Matsushita)

In a multi-year collaborative project, Hawai’i Pacific University research scientists and students have simulated rainfall on Hawai‘i’s first plastic road to determine if the created stormwater runoff contains harmful leached microplastics and/or synthetic chemicals.

The project began in October in Ewa Beach on O’ahu and is led and funded by the Hawai’i Department of Transportation.

The sample collection of rainwater runoff gathered from the road will take several months to analyze. A total of 1,950 tons of modified asphalt was used in the plastic road, the equivalent of 195,000 plastic bottles.

Jennifer Lynch, Ph.D., the co-­director of the university’s Center for Marine Debris Research, is leading the portion of the research addressing microplastic and plastic additive leaching from the pavement. (Photo Credit: Michael Matsushita)
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW AD
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW AD

Jennifer Lynch, Ph.D., the co-­director of the university’s Center for Marine Debris Research, is leading the portion of the research addressing microplastic and plastic additive leaching from the pavement.

“Nine students and staff … are working together like a pit crew to collect and analyze the water for this monumental trial of recycling plastic waste into Hawai‘i’s roads,” Lynch said in a press release. “Today is progress toward a very large research project in collaboration with the state and University of Hawai‘i.

“The stretch of road we have sampled is the first road paved with recycled plastics in Hawai‘i, so it is important that we understand if the pavement leaches environmental pollutants.”

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW AD

The plastic road has been driven on for nine months. It is divided into three seamless sections. The middle segment is the control area; the first and last segments of the road include the recycled plastics. The road looks and feels the same as any other asphalt road in Hawai‘i.

At the Center for Marine Debris Research, Lynch is currently leading several projects aimed at mitigating the harmful effects of plastic pollution on marine life. These include:

  • coordinating the removal and recycling of 200 tons of derelict fishing gear, or “ghost nets,” from the entire Hawaiian archipelago
  • investigating the chemical, physical and biological changes that occur during the weathering of plastic pollution
  • developing methods to measure micro and nanoplastics in the environment
  • quantifying the amount of plastic ingested by sea birds, sea turtles and fish.

Through these initiatives, Lynch and her team are working to create a cleaner and safer ocean for all. To learn more, click here.

Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Cancel
×

Comments

This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Kauai Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments