Microplastics analysis is an area of research where tiny plastic pieces are identified and quantified to determine their origins.
What are microplastics?
Microplastics are small plastic pieces less than five millimeters long which can be harmful to our ocean and aquatic life. Plastic is the most prevalent type of marine debris found in our ocean and Great Lakes. Plastic debris can come in all shapes and sizes, but those that are less than five millimeters in length (or about the size of a sesame seed) are called “microplastics.”
As an emerging field of study, not a lot is known about microplastics and their impacts yet. The NOAA Marine Debris Program is leading efforts within NOAA to research this topic. Standardized field methods for collecting sediment, sand, and surface-water microplastic samples have been developed and continue to undergo testing. Eventually, field and laboratory protocols will allow for global comparisons of the amount of microplastics released into the environment, which is the first step in determining the final distribution, impacts, and fate of this debris.
Microplastics come from a variety of sources, including from larger plastic debris that degrades into smaller and smaller pieces. In addition, microbeads, a type of microplastic, are very tiny pieces of manufactured polyethylene plastic that are added as exfoliants to health and beauty products, such as some cleansers and toothpastes. These tiny particles easily pass through water filtration systems and end up in the ocean and Great Lakes, posing a potential threat to aquatic life.
Learn more about our solutions for microplastics analysis through the following resources.
Learn how the pyrolysis gas-chromatography mass spectrometry technique can be used for analyzing microplastics in environmental samples.
Environmental laboratories use Frontier multi-mode pyrolysis systems for their research, analyzing microplastics samples qualitatively and quantitatively.
This application note describes an application where a microscope interfaced with a FTIR spectrometer can provide the necessary composition information to identify microplastics, a major source of marine and environmental pollution.
During this webinar, we’ll focus on microplastics and the detection and identification of microplastics particles using FTIR microspectroscopy.