The REMEDIES partner Wasser 3.0 published the first article of the REMEDIES consortium regarding microplastic detection and we are more than proud! The article “Fast Forward: Optimized Sample Preparation and Fluorescent Staining for Microplastic Detection” by Michael Toni Sturm, Erika Myers, Anika Korzin, Sabrina Polierer, Dennis Schober, and Katrin Schuhen is open accessible here.
More about the article:
The fast, affordable, and standardized detection of microplastics (MP) remains one of the biggest challenges in MP research. Comparable data are essential for appropriate risk assessments and the implementation of laws and limit values. The fluorescent staining of MP in environmental samples is a possible solution to this problem. This study investigates the optimization of a sample preparation process (hydrogen peroxide digestion) and the staining process (temperature, concentration, time, surfactants as staining aids) for using a specifically developed fluorescent dye for MP detection. The optimization is performed by comparing the sample preparation process and staining of MP from different polymers and natural particles. Further, the suitability of the optimized process for the detection of fluoropolymers and tire abrasion was tested. The results show that the optimized method (increased temperature and optimized stain concentration) can detect microplastics reliably with a total sample preparation and measurement time of 2.5–3 h per sample, reaching recovery rates of 93.3% (polypropylene) to 101.7% (polyester). Moreover, two of the three tested fluoropolymers could be detected reliably. Tire abrasion could not be detected with the here presented method, as the black color leads to strong quenching. A long-term study measuring the MP pollution in the effluent of a municipal wastewater treatment plant compared the optimized and original processes and confirmed the stability of the improved method for routine measurements and contamination control.
Keywords: microplastics; microplastic detection; fluorescent dye; Nile red; fluoropolymer; tire abrasion; fluorescent staining; process control; sustainable process design