Measurlabs offers laboratory analyses for detecting and quantifying microplastics in samples including water, soil, and sludge. Common reasons for testing include environmental research and optimizing product development to minimize the release of microplastics into the product or the environment.
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Testing options for water
Different types of water are the most common sample matrix in microplastics testing. Plastic particles can be screened from natural waters to identify polluted river, lake, or sea areas. Analysis may also focus on bottled water to optimize the production process and packaging so that as few particles as possible end up in the product.
Microplastic analysis of wastewater is typically focused on optimizing filtration systems to minimize the release of plastics into the environment. Testable systems can range from small filters intended for washing machines to filters used on large ships.
In addition to water, microplastics can be screened from other environmental samples, such as soil, sediment, and sludge. This is usually slightly more complicated, which is why the analysis price is higher. Testing options for food products, pharmaceuticals, biological samples, and other specialty matrices are also available upon request.
Analysis methods in microplastics testing
Microplastics can be analyzed using several methods, the most common of which are Raman, FTIR, and py-GC/MS. Raman and FTIR can identify and quantify microplastic particles by size range and plastic type. Identification is based on reference libraries, so even rarer plastics can be detected. Very small particles (< 1 µm) are generally not detected, however, which makes these methods unsuitable for nanoplastic analysis.
Pyrolysis-GC/MS, on the other hand, is capable of detecting nanoplastics, but it does not provide information about particle size distribution. Instead, the overall quantity of microplastics is reported in µg/l. If detailed information about the shape and size of plastic particles is needed, SEM imaging can also be used.