American Chemical Society
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Adding Depth to Microplastics

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-09-08, 18:12 authored by Margherita Barchiesi, Merel Kooi, Albert A. Koelmans
The effects and risks of microplastics correlate with three-dimensional (3D) properties, such as the volume and surface area of the biologically accessible fraction of the diverse particle mixtures as they occur in nature. However, these 3D parameters are difficult to estimate because measurement methods for spectroscopic and visible light image analysis yield data in only two dimensions (2D). The best-existing 2D to 3D conversion models require calibration for each new set of particles, which is labor-intensive. Here we introduce a new model that does not require calibration and compare its performance with existing models, including calibration-based ones. For the evaluation, we developed a new method in which the volumes of environmentally relevant microplastic mixtures are estimated in one go instead of on a cumbersome particle-by-particle basis. With this, the new Barchiesi model can be seen as the most universal. The new model can be implemented in software used for the analysis of infrared spectroscopy and visual light image analysis data and is expected to increase the accuracy of risk assessments based on particle volumes and surface areas as toxicologically relevant metrics.