Methods for sampling and detection of microplastics in water and sediment: A critical review

Elsevier, TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry, Volume 110, January 2019, Pages 150-159.
Joana Prata João Costa, Armando Duarte and Teresa Rocha-Santos

Microplastics are widespread contaminants, virtually present in all environmental compartments. However, knowledge on sources, fate and environmental concentration over time and space still is limited due to the laborious and varied analytical procedures currently used. In this work we critically review the methods currently used for sampling and detection of microplastics, identifying flaws in study design and suggesting promising alternatives. This work provides insights on bulk sample collection, separation, digestion, identification and quantification, and mitigation of cross-contamination. The sampling of microplastics will improve in representativeness and reproducibility through the determination of bulk sample volume, filter's pore size, density separation and digestion solutions, but also through use of novel methods, such as the enhancement of visual identification by staining dyes, and the generalized use of chemical characterization.