Using castor oil to separate microplastics from four different environmental matrices

Mani, Thomas and Frehland, Stefan and Kalberer, Andreas and Burkhardt-Holm, Patricia. (2019) Using castor oil to separate microplastics from four different environmental matrices. Analytical methods, 11 (13). pp. 1788-1794.

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The detection of environmental microplastics (MP) is limited by the need to rigorously separate polymers from the surrounding sample matrix. Searching for an affordable, low-risk and quick separation method, we developed a protocol to separate microplastics (size range: 0.3-1 mm; virgin polymers: PP, PS, PMMA and PET-G) from suspended surface solids (marine and fluvial) as well as soil and sediment using castor oil. We demonstrate effective separation of the four polymers in a spike-recovery experiment. The mean +/- SD MP spike-recovery rate was 99 +/- 4% with an average matrix reduction of 95 +/- 4% (dry weight, n = 16). The protocol was validated by separating non-spiked environmental Rhine River suspended solids samples recovering 74 +/- 13% of MP. There PS comprised 76% of the non-retrieved MP and additional H2O2 digestion was needed to sufficiently reduce the highly abundant natural matrix. This castor oil lipophilicity-based protocol (i) achieves high MP recovery rates as a function of its environmental matrix reduction ability and (ii) provides environmentally friendly, non-hazardous and resource-efficient separation of MP from four different, typically investigated environmental compartments using one and the same method. Based on the Rhine River sample validation, the protocol is a potent replacement for traditional density separation techniques. Samples with high biogenic concentrations may require additional digestion.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Aquatische ├ľkologie (Holm)
UniBasel Contributors:Mani, Thomas and Frehland, Stefan and Kalberer, Andreas and Holm, Patricia
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Royal Society of Chemistry
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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edoc DOI:
Last Modified:18 Sep 2019 08:16
Deposited On:18 Sep 2019 08:16

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