American Chemical Society
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A Peristaltic Pump and Filter-Based Method for Aqueous Microplastic Sampling and Analysis

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-01-31, 16:06 authored by Zoë Harrold, Monica M. Arienzo, Meghan Collins, Julia M. Davidson, Xuelian Bai, Suja Sukumaran, John Umek
Sampling the aquatic environment for microplastic concentration is inherently difficult because of variations in microplastic concentration, shape, and density and the potential for contamination. We present an assessment of a method for microplastic sampling that uses a peristaltic pump to pump water through a series of in-line stainless-steel mesh filters. Following filtration, the stainless-steel filters were treated using previously published methods to isolate microplastics, adjusted for the stainless-steel mesh filters. Microplastics were identified using micro-Fourier transform infrared (μFTIR) spectroscopy in transmission mode. This method was tested in the laboratory using standard polyethylene beads and was applied to two sample sites at the Las Vegas Wash in Nevada. The results showed that 70% of the polyethylene beads were recovered after the peristaltic pump and laboratory steps with minimal blank contamination. The advantages of the peristaltic pump sampling method are it (1) supports a range of sample volumes, (2) reduces sample handling, (3) reduces the potential for contamination, (4) provides flexibility in sampling locations, and (5) supports a variety of filter types. Using stainless-steel mesh filters allows for (1) streamlined and direct field-to-laboratory sample processing, (2) μFTIR transmission mode analysis of filter-mounted microplastics, and (3) reduced filter and sample processing costs.