A Practical Overview of Methodologies for Sampling and Analysis of Microplastics in Riverine Environments

Campanale, C.; Savino, I.; Pojar, I.; Massarelli, C.; Uricchio, V.F. “A Practical Overview of Methodologies for Sampling and Analysis of Microplastics in Riverine Environments.” Sustainability 2020, 12, 6755. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12176755 [open access]

Abstract: Microplastics have recently been stated as being remarkable contaminants of all environmental matrices. The lack of consistent and standardised methods and protocols used to evaluate and quantify microplastics present in riverine systems made a comparison among different studies a critical issue. Based on literature research and the practical expertise of the authors, this work presents a complete collection and analysis of procedures concerning the monitoring of microplastics in riverine environments, focusing on their sampling and analytical protocols to identify, quantify, and characterise them. Further details regarding the advantages and disadvantages of each analytical technique described, such as general recommendations and suggestions, are provided to give practical support for analytical procedures. In particular, microplastics studies consist firstly of their sampling from the aquatic compartment (aqueous and solid phase). Based on the goal of the research, specific devices can be used to collect particles from different matrices. It follows their quantification after extraction from the environmental matrix, adopting different protocols to isolate microplastics from a large amount of organic matter present in a riverine system. In the end, additional qualitative analyses (e.g., RAMAN and FTIR spectroscopy, GC-MS) are required to identify the chemical composition of particles for a better image regarding the abundance of polymer types, their origin, or other information related to manufacturing processes.

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