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Microplastic analysis of clean water

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The presence and effects of microplastics (MP) have drawn more and more attention among current environmental issues. The size fraction considered varies, but microplastics refer in the literature frequently to 0.1-5000 µm (eg EFSA, 2016).

It is difficult to give an exact figure of the amount of microplastics that is released into nature. The sources are numerous and the uncertainties are large but among the biggest sources, road traffic has been pointed out together with artificial turfs, boats, building facades, plastic production and waste water treatment plants. Occurrence in environmental matrices such as wastewater, landfill leachates and surface water varies and depends on several factors.

Sample amount

  • 2x5 Liters in glass containers (Seawater samples)
  • 2x1 Liters in glass containers (Water samples)
  • 2x1 Liters in sealed original sample container (Drinking bottled water)
    + one empty container as control (all sample types)

The filling and rinsing of bottles three times in the sampling process is recommended. The sampler should carefully take into account the presence of polymer contamination risk. Please wear all natural fiber clothing when taking samples (e.g. 100% cotton). Do not wear synthetic fleece. It can also be advantageous to perform the sampling against the wind direction. Put screw top/lids back on as soon as possible after sampling. There is no need of conservation or cooling of sample prior to shipment to lab in Bergen. The samples are treated in polymer-particle free labfaci- lity. We carry out blanks throughout the analysis process.

Polymer particles with size <5MM in clean water

Method “Py-GCMS”

Order code: MX130 (Mass concentration as used in regulative norms)

Filtration on a 0,2 µm filter. Quantitative determination with Pyrolytic-GC-MS. 
Reference: Marten Fischer and Barbara m. Scholz-Böttcher, ICBM, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Environ. Sci. Thechnol. 2017, 51,5052-5060.

Reporting:

  • µg/L of individual polymer type (PE, PP, PS, PVC, PET, PC, PMMA, PA6) and as a sum MP

Method “Py-GCMS”

Order code: MX860 (on request only) 

Filtration on a 2,7 µm filter. Scanning with FTIR microscopy (min. particle size 50 µm)

Reporting:

  • # of Polymer particles/ Liter
  • Size fraction distribution (# of particles)
  • Polymer type distribution (%)
  • Shapes of polymer particles (fragments, fibers, film).

Micro plastics in salt

Determination of MP in a salt sample can be performed by dissolving 50 g salt into particle free water in the lab followed by the two methods described for water.

Order codes: MX530 (Py-GCMS) MX861 (FTIR) - on request only

Other matrix

MP can be determined in other matrixses as waste water, soil, sediments and biota on request.

Analytical methods

Micro plastic particles can be easily filtered from clean liquid samples with a vacuum filter. Filter papers will be assessed for the presence of suspected plastics with different methods. The presence of high volumes of particulate matter can make processing and identification more complicated. For regulatory purposes the mass determination by Py-GCMS is most relevant and expected to become the most relevant analytical technology. The Py-GCMS is a very specific method to determine particles of individual polymer types of all sizes.

The most used analytical methods in scientific community for micro plastics are based on FTIR or Raman. These technologies can determine the numbers and characterize particles as different polymers. FTIR is by far the most used technology. In several strategic documents FTIR is advised to be combined with Pyrolysis GC/MS, it is then possible to both characterize the particle according to polymer type and determine the number and size of the particles (FTIR) and mass (Py- GCMS). Other technics like SEM (scanning electron microscope) can also identify particles but cannot distinguish between polymer types. SEM is not often utilized in the scientific community.

Questions and shipment

Eurofins Environment Testing Norway AS
Sandviksveien 110 N-5035 Bergen, Norway
Phone: +47 94 50 42 42
Bergen@eurofins.no