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Issue 9, 2017
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Validation of density separation for the rapid recovery of microplastics from sediment

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Abstract

Several density separation techniques using numerous brine solutions have been developed for the separation of microplastics from sediment. The aim of this study was to validate the use of various brine solutions in a relatively rapid, reproducible, low cost single stage method that can deliver consistently high recoveries for different microplastic polymers <1 mm appropriate for monitoring programmes. The recovery of environmentally relevant microplastics (200–400 μm and 800–1000 μm) from post-consumer products was tested against tap water and brine solutions of varying density including sodium chloride (NaCl), sodium bromide (NaBr), sodium iodide (NaI) and zinc bromide (ZnBr2). As expected a general trend of increasing microplastic recovery with increasing solution density was observed, with NaI and ZnBr2 having significantly (p ≤ 0.001) higher rates of microplastic recovery. Microplastic size was found to influence recovery rates and needs to be taken into consideration when choosing a brine solution. From this work it is evident that density separation recovery tests are needed to validate the use of brine solutions for microplastic recovery and that ZnBr2 is a novel and appropriate brine solution for microplastic extraction. This study represents the most in depth validation of brine solutions for the density separation of microplastic from sediments undertaken to date.

Graphical abstract: Validation of density separation for the rapid recovery of microplastics from sediment

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Publication details

The article was received on 09 Sep 2016, accepted on 07 Nov 2016 and first published on 11 Nov 2016


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C6AY02542K
Citation: Anal. Methods, 2017,9, 1491-1498
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    Validation of density separation for the rapid recovery of microplastics from sediment

    B. Quinn, F. Murphy and C. Ewins, Anal. Methods, 2017, 9, 1491
    DOI: 10.1039/C6AY02542K

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