Virgin polyvinyl chloride (PVC) particles were exposed to heat, ultraviolet B (UVB) and solar radiation either in artificial seawater or in air for different periods of time. The surface and chemical properties of fresh and degraded particle surfaces were determined via image analysis using scanning electron micrographs, a Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) specific surface area analyzer and infrared spectroscopy. Thermal and UVB degradation resulted in unique PVC morphologies. In addition, the increased presences of functional groups were evident as dehydrochlorination and oxidation during the degradation process, which altered the chemical properties of PVC. In contrast, under solar exposure with or without seawater, unevenness to the surface was noted that seems to originate from degradation of the PVC surface; in addition, no new functional groups were found. This suggests that the chemical properties of PVC are stable over extended periods in the marine environment.
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