A comparison of microscopic and spectroscopic identification methods for analysis of microplastics in environmental samples

Young Kyoung Song, Sang Hee Hong, Mi Jang, Gi Myung Han, Manviri Rani, Jongmyoung Lee, Won Joon Shim
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2015 April 15, 93 (1-2): 202-9
The analysis of microplastics in various environmental samples requires the identification of microplastics from natural materials. The identification technique lacks a standardized protocol. Herein, stereomicroscope and Fourier transform infrared spectroscope (FT-IR) identification methods for microplastics (<1mm) were compared using the same samples from the sea surface microlayer (SML) and beach sand. Fragmented microplastics were significantly (p<0.05) underestimated and fiber was significantly overestimated using the stereomicroscope both in the SML and beach samples. The total abundance by FT-IR was higher than by microscope both in the SML and beach samples, but they were not significantly (p>0.05) different. Depending on the number of samples and the microplastic size range of interest, the appropriate identification method should be determined; selecting a suitable identification method for microplastics is crucial for evaluating microplastic pollution.

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