Sampling, isolating and identifying microplastics ingested by fish and invertebrates

Lusher, A.L., Welden, N.A. , Sobral, P. and Cole, M. (2017) Sampling, isolating and identifying microplastics ingested by fish and invertebrates. Analytical Methods, 9, pp. 1346-1360. (doi: 10.1039/C6AY02415G)

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Abstract

Microplastic debris (<5 mm) is a prolific environmental pollutant, found worldwide in marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. Interactions between biota and microplastics are prevalent, and there is growing evidence that microplastics can incite significant health effects in exposed organisms. To date, the methods used to quantify such interactions have varied greatly between studies. Here, we critically review methods for sampling, isolating and identifying microplastics ingested by environmentally and laboratory exposed fish and invertebrates. We aim to draw attention to the strengths and weaknesses of the suite of published microplastic extraction and enumeration techniques. Firstly, we highlight the risk of microplastic losses and accumulation during biotic sampling and storage, and suggest protocols for mitigating contamination in the field and laboratory. We evaluate a suite of methods for extracting microplastics ingested by biota, including dissection, depuration, digestion and density separation. Lastly, we consider the applicability of visual identification and chemical analyses in categorising microplastics. We discuss the urgent need for the standardisation of protocols to promote consistency in data collection and analysis. Harmonized methods will allow for more accurate assessment of the impacts and risks microplastics pose to biota and increase comparability between studies.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:MC is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC UK: NE/L007010)
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Welden, Dr Natalie
Authors: Lusher, A.L., Welden, N.A., Sobral, P., and Cole, M.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Journal Name:Analytical Methods
Publisher:Royal Society of Chemistry
ISSN:1759-9660
ISSN (Online):1759-9679
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Royal Society of Chemistry
First Published:First published in Analytical Chemistry 9:1346-1360
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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