ALS offers identification and quatification of microplastics in several sample types. The analysis is performed by µFTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy). ALS has offered methods for microplastics since 2017 and we have expanded our range of methods to meet the needs of our customers.
Today we are able to analyse microplastics in following matrices:
- Water, pure (e.g. drinking water) and contaminated (e.g. wastewater)
- Soil and sediment
- Biota (for example fish, mussles)
- Food (for example sea salt, honey, powdered milk, tea and beer)
Sample preparation and analytical method
Analysis of microplastic in complex samples types such as sludge, sediment and soil demands extensive sample preparation to separate the microplastics from other organic and inorganic material. The separation technique depends on the sample type. Generally, inorganic and organic material is removed before filtration. Inorganic material such as mineral particles are removed from the sample by density separation. Organic material is degraded by oxidation and enzymatic treatment. Identification and quantification is performed by μ-FTIR. Our reference library is extensive, which means that we can identify a large number of plastics.
Black particles and rubber particles from for example abrasion of tyres and artificial turfs, are difficult to analyse with μ-FTIR. By using an ATR crystal in conjunction with the IR-instrument, black particles and rubber particles can be analysed. The analysis includes particles that usually can be found in tyres and granules; butadiene rubber (BR), isoprene rubber (IR), styrenebutadiene rubber (SBR) and ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber (EPDM rubber).
For more information about our analyses, please see:
What are microplastics?
Microplastics in the environment are subject to intense research and studies reveal that they are present in products we use daily, for example, bottled water and cosmetics. Plastics degrade very slowly in the environment and the large amount of plastics in our water environment has led to an increased focus on the harmful effects to marine organisms.
The definition of microplastics is small plastic particles less than 5 mm, with most microplastics being smaller than 1 mm. Microplastics are very tiny pieces of manufactured plastic (microbeads) used as additives to health and beauty products. Plastic pellets that are used as raw material in the industry are unintentionally spread into the environment during transport and production. These particles are called primary particles. Microplastics can also derive from larger plastic debris that degrades into smaller and smaller pieces. These particles are called secondary particles.
Sources of microplastics
Studies show that important sources of microplastics in the sea are road wear and abrasion of tyres, artificial turfs, plastic fibres from textiles and industrially produced plastic pellets. Health and beauty products which contain microbeads (for example toothpaste and soap) also contribute to the contamination.
Plastics that are disposed of in the environment instead of being recycled will eventually degrade into smaller plastic particles.
It is uncertain how much of the particles from road wear and artificial turfs are transported to water recipients.
Contact us for more information
Please fill in the contact form on this page or contact us by phone +46 (0)8 527 752 00 if you have any questions.