Prof. Dr. Elia PSILLAKIS - International Environmental Chemistry Congress (EnviroChem)

Prof. Dr. Elia PSILLAKIS



Prof. Dr. Elia PSILLAKIS

Technical University of Crete, GREECE

School of Chemical and Environmental Engineering

Elia Psillakis is a Full Professor in Water Chemistry at the School of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Crete. She received her degree in Chemistry in 1995 from Universitè Montpellier II, France with Summa Cum Laude, and in 1997 her PhD from the University of Bristol, U.K. In 2007, she received a Fulbright Award and used it at California Institute of Technology (Caltech), USA. Her research activities focus on (i) understanding the fundamentals and developing sample preparation methods used for the detection of emerging and persistent organic pollutants in a variety of matrices, (ii) studying the fate of organic contaminants in natural and engineered systems and (iii) greening analytical procedures. Professor Elia Psillakis was featured in the Power List 2021 of the magazine “The Analytical Scientist” as one of the Top 100 most influential people in analytical science. To date, her investigations have resulted in six book chapters and more than 100 publications in ISI Journals that have received > 7500 citations (h-index=45) and three “Top cited article” awards. She is Editor-in-Chief of “Advances in Sample Preparation” (Elsevier), Specialty Chief Editor of “Environmental Analysis” for Frontiers in Analytical Science (Frontiers), Associate Editor of the “Journal of Separation Science” (Wiley) and an Editorial Advisory Board member in another six journals. Professor Elia Psillakis is the Head of the Sample Preparation Study Group and Network of the European Chemical Society-Division of Analytical Chemistry. She is the Founder of a Spin-Off Company of the Technical University of Crete and has two active patents. She has acted as an expert evaluator in several national and European evaluation panels, and in 2012 and 2013, she was vice-chair of the Chemistry evaluation panel for the EU Marie-Curie excellence fellowships. From 2014-2016, Professor Elia Psillakis was the Deputy Rector of Academic Affairs and Research at the Technical University of Crete and has served twice as the Director of postgraduate studies. During her service she has created several large-scale STEM and outreach activities.

Littered Cigarette Butts: A Small-Sized Waste Creating Big-Sized Problems

Elefteria Psillakis

School of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Crete, Greece.

Cigarette butts are the most littered items in urban areas worldwide, accounting for 22-46% of visible litter.1 Once disposed onto urban areas, they move through the storm drains to streams, into the ocean, and back onto the beaches. This makes cigarette butts the single most collected item in coastal environments each year, and the second most found item on beaches in the European Union.2 Environmental awareness on the disposal of tobacco products mainly focuses on the inability of discarded filters to biodegrade. There is markedly less awareness on the potential of TPs to act as point sources and leach toxicants.3,4 To this end, leachates from discarded cigarettes have been shown to be acutely toxic for different species such as marine bacteria (Vibrio fischeri), fish, snails and fish and frog embryos.3

The present contribution presents the inorganic and organic chemical components of environmental importance that are leached from used and unused tobacco products. Conventional cigarettes and the new generation Heat-not-Burn product are considered. The contribution of the different parts of tobacco products to the inorganic and organic content of leachates was assessed and compared to the total concentration of each chemical constituent initially present in the tobacco product. The organics were extracted using PDMS-based probes directly from the complex leachates. Cigarette leachates consist of highly complex mixtures of compounds across a wide concentration range, and such compounds typically elute as an unresolved complex mixture when subjected to one-dimensional gas chromatography (GC). Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC-TOFMS) with high-capacity sorptive extraction was therefore used for the exploratory profiling of leachates from used and unused cigarettes. Comparison of the results to those obtained from unused tobacco products allowed identifying the toxic compounds formed during the burning or heating process (depending on the product). All in all, the false perception that discarded tobacco products are the end point of a life cycle, points that there is still a way to go in addressing responsible disposal and post-consumer waste cleanup, to minimize the environmental hazards of discarded tobacco products.


References : 

  1. Roder Green, A.L.; Putschew; A. T., Nehls, J. Hydrol. 2014, 519 3466.
  2. European Commission, Directive (EU) 2019/904 of the European Parliament and the Council on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment, 2019.
  3. Koutela, N.; Fernández, E.; Saru, M.-L.L.; Psillakis, E. Sci. Total Environ. 2020, 714, 136700.
  4. Alberti, S.; Sotiropoulou, M.; Fernández, E.; Solomou, N.; Ferretti, M.; Psillakis, E. Environ. Res. 2021, 110695.