A Novel Approach to Reduce Bisphenol S From The Environment

By Malika Sharma
Senior Category (Grades 11-12)
Experiment | Chemistry, Environment

The industrial chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA), is an ingredient in many everyday products such as baby and water bottles, sports equipment, medical and dental devices, etc. Over the past decade, studies have shown that BPA is widely present in the environment and our bodies. BPA can be measured in human urine, umbilical cord blood and placental tissue. Some studies have suggested that BPA may affect human reproductive and other systems by behaving like human hormones. Because of this, many countries, including Canada, the United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Japan have banned the use of BPA in many products. In response, manufacturers have introduced “BPA-free” products made with substitute chemicals. Two common substitutes are Bisphenol S (BPS) and Bisphenol F (BPF).

However, two recent studies have found that exposure to BPS and BPF is also linked to produce harmful effects. BPS is as hormonally active as BPA and thus interferes with the endocrine system that may produce detrimental health effects, such as obesity, cancer and neurological disorders. Keeping this in mind, I wanted to explore a way to reduce the amount of BPS from our environment. Based on literature, I wanted to explore the use of fly ash, a pulverized fuel ash, to reduce the concentration of BPS in a solution. I hypothesized that mixing fly ash with a solution that contains BPS would decrease the concentration of BPS over time as the fly ash will absorb the BPS.

I used a capillary electrophoresis to conduct this experiment. Capillary electrophoresis is a separation technique in which charged species are separated, based on charge and size, by their different rates of migration in an electric field. A control BPS solution (300ppm) and a solution containing BPS (300 ppm) with 0.5 grams of fly ash were produced. The fly ash was mixed in the BPS solution on a shaker for 10 minutes. An aliquot of both the BPS control and the fly ash/BPS solution were individually loaded and ran on the capillary electrophoresis. The capillary electrophoresis provided peak areas for each of these solutions. The area of a peak is proportional to the amount of the compound that is present in the solution. If the peak area of the fly ash/BPS solution is less than the controlled BPS solution, then the fly ash was able to successfully absorb the BPS.

Results showed that the peak area of the controlled BPS solution was 359,634 and the peak area of the BPS/fly ash solution was 178,836. Thus, with only 10 minutes of shaking the fly ash in the BPS solution, the peak area of BPS reduced by half than that of control BPS solution. This proves my hypothesis that fly ash can absorb and reduce the concentration of BPS.

In conclusion, fly ash is a novel approach to reduce the harmful chemical, Bisphenol S, from our environment. This finding will not only provide manufacturers a way to reduce BPS but would also benefit them to get rid of fly ash more cost effectively.

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