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Title:
Can Golf Lessons Help Save the Environment? – The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation
Creator:
Sundstrom, Nicholas
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Publication Date:

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Conference Papers ( sobekcm )

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Collected for Auraria Institutional Repository by the Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Matthew Mariner.
General Note:
Faculty mentor: Sarah Schliemann
General Note:
Major: Environmental sciences

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Source Institution:
Auraria Institutional Repository
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

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Can Golf Lessons Help Save the Environment? The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation Nick Sundstrom MSU Denver, Environmental Science nsundstr@msudenver.edu Advisor: Dr. Sarah Schliemann Photo by tyler hendy from Pexels

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Abstract Plastics use has increased tremendously over the past half century, as they are economically efficient and simple to manufacture, as well as being malleable . However, they are notoriously slow to degrade and even slower to decompose . These features present problems with a growing world population and increasing plastic consumption . An understudied potential source of microplastic pollution may come from an unlikely culprit ; golf balls . Many golf courses include rivers, creeks and/or ponds which generally serve the dual purpose of creating a challenge for golfers and for irrigation of the course . Plastic coated golf balls may enter these aquatic systems and stay for an indefinite amount of time . Research into the degradation potential of golf balls in various aqueous environments is seemingly nonexistent at present . This study exposed modern polyurethane coated golf balls to treatment solutions of varied pH, salinity, alkalinity and ultraviolet light . After a period of six months, the solutions were tested for changes in total carbon (TC) . A golf polyurethane cover is chemically composed of organic hydro carbon units linked by carbamate functional groups . Measuring a change in total carbon (TC) of the treatment solutions acted as a proxy for chemical degradation . The results of the study will help to identify under what conditions golf ball degradation takes place or can be accelerated . The extent of degradation under certain conditions may assist in further understanding the effects of microplastics on underwater ecosystems . 2 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation

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Research Purpose 3 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation While research into the degradation of plastics is plentiful, the subject of golf ball degradation specifically, appears to be lacking Many golf course designs incorporate freshwater features or are located along coastal regions making it likely for a ball to enter these environments Understanding the potential for degradation in these types of environments will assist in better understanding overall effects on aquatic ecosystems and what role, if any, golf balls play

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Microplastics and Negative Consequences 4 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation Defined as plastic particles less than 5 mm in length Thought to account for between 93 236 thousand metric tons of plastic waste in the world's oceans Smaller plastic particles become more likely to be ingested by marine organisms where it bioaccumulates and can cause chronic or acute toxicity Studies have implied microplastic exposure could cause a significant reduction in the growth of certain primary producers, such as microalgae Studies have also shown under laboratory conditions tensile strength of polyurethane (PUR) can be reduced under direct exposure to UV radiation and as temperature was increased

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Methods Experiment Design Aqueous solutions of varying levels of alkalinity, salinity, pH and UV exposure were created using mason jars as treatment containers Three different golf ball models from the same manufacturer were placed into each treatment ; controls received no golf balls Change in Total Carbon (TC) was measured and used as a proxy for the chemical degradation of the ball covering 5 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation Treatment conditions were triplicated This photo shows alkalinity, salinity and pH treatment jars

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Modern Golf Ball Design 6 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation Designs are proprietary, vary by manufacturer and model Generally a two , three or four piece design Main components are an encased core and cover Core is generally polybutadiene (PBD) based with titanium, tungsten or zinc added for weight Cover material usually consists of ionomers or polyurethane/polyurea (PUR/PR) Image credits: https://www.golfalot.com/equipment reviews/titleist pro v1 pro v1x 2019 golf ball review 4163.aspx

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Methods Experiment Design (continued) Golf ball models utilized : Different models were utilized to control external variable introduction which may have arose due to specific model properties Exact nature of materials and construction amongst models vary One ball of each model used in each treatment solution ( 3 balls total per treatment) Titleist DT TruSoft Titleist Tour Soft Titleist Pro V (low performance) (mid performance) (high perf orm ance) 7 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation Image credits: https://www.golfalot.com/equipment reviews/titleist Image credits: https://www.titleist.com/golf balls/dt trusoft

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Methods Experiment Design (continued) Aqueous solutions consisted of the following factor levels: Alkalinity 90 mg/L, 150 mg/L, and 300 mg/L Salinity 500 µS/cm, 5000 µS/cm, and 55000 µS/cm pH 7.22 , 7.96 , 10.01 , and 11.96 UV exposure utilized proprietary UV exposure apparatuses Exposure time = 154 days 8 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation

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Methods Experiment Design 9 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation Each factor level consisted of one control and three treatment solutions Each treatment contained 3 golf balls (one each of DT Trusoft , Toursoft and Pro V1 models) Salinity 5000 5000 5000 5000 55000 55000 55000 55000 500 500 500 500 Control Treatment Treatment Treatment Alkalinity 90 90 90 90 150 150 150 150 300 300 300 300 pH 7.22 7.22 7.22 7.22 7.96 7.96 7.96 7.96 10.01 10.01 10.01 10.01 11.96 11.96 11.96 11.96 A A A A B B B B C C C C UV PHASE I Treatment Factor Overview

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Methods Experiment Design (continued) UV exposure apparatuses were constructed utilizing sealed cardboard boxes and a Leciel 6 watt UV black light affixed to the underside of the apparatus lid Two 1/8 th thick clear acrylic sheets acted as filters for treatments B & C. Treatment B received one filter treatment C received two filters. 10 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation UV A no filter, direct exposure UV B & C with acrylic filters Lid with UV black light affixed Exterior

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Methods Experiment Design (continued) A Phase II ultraviolet light (UV) treatment was created to directly expose subject balls to UV without filters Consisted of test subjects of the various models being placed into a deionized solution or a 55 , 000 µS/cm saline solution Solutions were covered with clingwrap to limit evaporation but as to not influence exposure Phase II was designed to purely observe physical deformation Exposure time = 42 days 11 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation

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Results Total Carbon (TC) Results 12 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation

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Results (continued) 13 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation

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Results (continued) 14 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation Phase II UV treatments were given qualitative responses on a binary response scale only (yes/no) based on visual inspection 95% 5% UV Phase II Deionized Solution Deformation Yes No 5% 95% UV Phase II Saline Solution Deformation Yes No

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Results (continued) 15 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was utilized to determine the statistical significance in the variance between the change in TC between control and treatment groups ANOVA analysis was accomplished utilizing R statistical software, version 3.5.2 (2018 12 20)

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Discussion 16 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation Higher alkalinity and decreased UV exposure appear to have no effect on golf ball degradation Utilizing a level of significance of 0 . 05 , ANOVA analysis failed to reject the null hypothesis for certain treatment factors This says there was no statistical significance in the difference between the control and treatment groups and any variance between control and treatments was likely due to random chance These treatments include : Alkalinity 150 & 300 pH 10 . 01 UV B & C (both UV treatments with filters) What we may infer from results : Higher alkalinity of solution may not factor in golf ball degradation, w/o considering interaction effects Decreased UV penetration may not factor in golf ball degradation, w/o considering interaction effects A null result for pH 10 . 01 may be a statistical anomaly See additional discussion regarding pH treatments on next slides

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Discussion (continued) 17 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation Saline and basic (pH> 7 ) solutions, as well as direct UV exposure appear to have effect on golf ball degradation Utilizing a level of significance of 0 . 05 , ANOVA analysis rejected the null hypothesis for certain treatment factors, and favors the alternative hypotheses This says there was statistical significance in the difference between the control and treatment groups and any variance between control and treatments are not likely due to random chance These treatments include : Alkalinity 90 UV A (UV treatment without filter) pH 7 . 22 , 7 . 96 & 11 . 96 All salinity treatments What we may infer : Alkalinity of solution may not factor in ball degradation or may be impeding degradation via interaction effects ; higher alkaline treatments were shown to have no statistical significance Increased UV penetration may factor in ball degradation

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Discussion 18 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation Analysis showed a statistical significance in variance between all salinity treatments and all pH treatments apart from pH 10 . 01 What we may infer : Salinity and pH may factor in golf ball degradation, w/o considering interaction effects A null result for pH 10 . 01 may be a statistical anomaly a larger sample size may produce more accurate data extenuating circumstances or variable interaction effects cannot be ruled out This conclusion drawn as all other pH treatments were shown to be statistically significant

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Discussion (continued) 19 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation Qualitative analysis of Phase II UV treatments showed direct UV exposure to the deionized solution treatment caused deformation of the outer covering Reiterates findings from Phase I which showed a higher TC content from direct exposure Comes w/o prejudice for ball type 18 of 19 subjects (made of up all models) showed visible deformation Deformation manifested as bubbling, blistering and/or discoloration not all subjects experienced every form of deformation

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Blistering 20 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation

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Bubbling 21 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation

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Discoloration 22 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation

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Discussion (continued) 23 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation Qualitative analysis of Phase II UV treatments showed direct UV exposure of the saline solution treatment does not appear as likely to cause deformation of the outer covering as the deionized solution Deformation was not nearly as prevalent in the saline solution treatment subject balls . Only 1 of the 19 subjects showed any signs of deformation A study by Hader, et al . suggests there is a correlation between the depth of UV penetration and dissolved organic compounds (DOC) concentration . A larger amount of may be in saline solution due to chemical degradation as shown was possible from the Phase I testing . TC testing of the before and after solution could have verified . A larger amount of in solution may limit UV penetration and thus limit the effects of ball deformation, if viewed as a standalone factor . It is also possible that prolonged exposure to both UV and a saline solution promotes chemical degradation without visibly or physically manifesting as physical deformation .

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Study Evaluation 24 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation Study was designed to test for TC only . As seen from the change in control solutions, TC also increased in the absence of golf balls in solution . This is possible due to atmospheric carbon (CO 2 ) entering solution via a vapor pressure deficit between the solution and surroundings A follow up study testing for organic carbon vs . inorganic carbon could provide greater insight on dissolved organic carbon in solution and control for atmospheric carbon entering solution No replication for control solutions ANOVA analysis requires sample means for both the control and treatment solutions to identify whether variance exists or not Without replicating the control solutions, a true sample mean was not obtained and may have altered ANOVA results

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Study Evaluation (continued) 25 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation Small sample sizes and limited duration Sample sizes for the study were small due to cost and space . A larger sample size could produce more accurate sample means which could lead to greater accuracy with ANOVA results The time for plastic degradation has been studied ad nauseum and shown to require large amounts of time in the absence of outside factors (years, decades or centuries) . Phase I of this study was run for 154 days with UV Phase II run for 42 days Study did not look at interaction effects It is possible there is a simultaneous effect brought on by two or more of variables A follow up study could look a possible interaction effects between tested factors Study did not account or test for effects due to dynamic environments In natural settings, golf balls in aqueous environments may be subjected to wind, tidal or other erosional forces, as well as interactions with microbes. A follow up study may look to utilize natural conditions vs. bench conditions

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Summary/Conclusion 26 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation This study shows that under certain conditions, plastic/polymer based golf balls can degrade in aqueous environments typical of modern golf courses Particularly under direct UV exposure and in solutions that are higher in saline content and basicity Plastics (microplastics in particular) can have devastating ecological effects as they can cause toxicity in organisms if ingested as well as disrupt metabolic functions that can have negative global implications i.e. decrease in primary production of algae that can limit oxygen generation and increase CO2 While ball degradation to some extent does occur, plastic degradation in general is highly dependent on time. It is difficult to say how long a golf ball may stay in a course water feature for, but it may not be long enough to see severe degradation in the absence of other factors such as erosional forces. If balls are removed within a matter of months or years, it is likely that any consequences caused by increased carbon entering that ecosystem may be minimalized Nonetheless, golf balls are another potential source of microplastic pollution Keeping them out of your local courses water hazard is no guarantee of better environmental conditions, but it will improve your scores

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Acknowledgements 27 4/23/2020 The effects of various aqueous conditions on golf ball degradation Special thanks to Dr. Sarah Schliemann and Dr. Josh McGrath for their assistance and guidance with experiment design and implementation, and to Dr. Megan Hughes Zarzo for her guidance with the project design and writing processes.

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