FT-IR analysis for monitoring marine microplastics

Martin.Loeder [ at ] awi.de


Persistent plastics are hardly degraded and accumulate in the marine environment. Their fragmentation leads to an increasing amount of small plastic particles, so-called microplastics. Due to their size, these have the potential of entering marine food webs. For a reliable evaluation and an assessment of food web effects, a detailed quantitative and qualitative monitoring of microplastics in the marine environment is highly required and thus stipulated within the framework of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Due to the sampling procedures and the sample analyses currently used, the scarce data on microplastics concentrations are mostly biased towards larger particles. Therefore, reliable data on concentrations of the total size spectrum of microplastics in marine systems and especially in German coastal waters are still lacking. Furthermore, the polymer origin of potential microplastic particles needs to be verified during analysis. Fourier Transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy offers the possibility of proper identification of plastic particles in environmental samples. However, standard FT-IR spectroscopy still requires time- and labour-consuming pre-sorting of particles by hand. Hence, small or less abundant microplastics are potentially overlooked. A highly promising FT-IR extension (FT-IR Imaging) allows for detailed and unbiased high throughput analysis of total microplastics in a given sample without prior pre-sorting by hand. Thus the project MICROPLAST aims on (1) the development/optimisation of appropriate methods for the extraction of microplastic particles from complex matrices (e.g. sediment, plankton, tissue), (2) the evaluation of FT-IR imaging for the analysis of microplastics and the development of procedures for its routine application, (3) the first-time production of valid data on the pollution of the pelagic and benthic zone with microplastic particles in German coastal waters.

Item Type
Conference (Talk)
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Publication Status
Event Details
YOUMARES 4, 11 Sep 2013 - 13 Sep 2013, Oldenburg.
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Cite as
Löder, M. and Gerdts, G. (2013): FT-IR analysis for monitoring marine microplastics , YOUMARES 4, Oldenburg, 11 September 2013 - 13 September 2013 .

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