A new approach presented for analysis of microplastics in environmental samples.
Would like to share with you an article freshly published in Scientific Reports presenting a rapid method of quantification of microplastics at sea and in sediments:
Maes, T., Jessop, R., Wellner, N., Haupt, K., Mayes, A.G., 2017. A rapid-screening approach to detect and quantify microplastics based on fluorescent tagging with Nile Red, Scientific Reports. 7, 44501; doi:10.1038/srep44501.
A new approach is presented for analysis of microplastics in environmental samples, based on selective
fluorescent staining using Nile Red (NR), followed by density-based extraction and filtration. The
dye adsorbs onto plastic surfaces and renders them fluorescent when irradiated with blue light.
Fluorescence emission is detected using simple photography through an orange filter. Image-analysis
allows fluorescent particles to be identified and counted. Magnified images can be recorded and
tiled to cover the whole filter area, allowing particles down to a few micrometres to be detected. The
solvatochromic nature of Nile Red also offers the possibility of plastic categorisation based on surface
polarity characteristics of identified particles. This article details the development of this staining
method and its initial cross-validation by comparison with infrared (IR) microscopy. Microplastics of
different sizes could be detected and counted in marine sediment samples. The fluorescence staining
identified the same particles as those found by scanning a filter area with IR-microscopy.