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Comparison between manta trawl and in situ pump filtration methods, and guidance for visual identification of microplastics in surface waters

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Therese Karlsson
A. K?rrman
A. Rotander
Martin Hassellöv
Publicerad i Environmental Science and Pollution Research
Volym 27
Nummer/häfte 5
Sidor 5559-5571
ISSN 0944-1344
Publiceringsår 2020
Publicerad vid Institutionen för marina vetenskaper
Sidor 5559-5571
Språk en
Länkar dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11356-019-07274...
Ämnesord Microplastics, Surface water sampling, Monitoring, Particle, quantification, Method development, Plastic pollution, Microlitter, marine-environment, plastic debris, polyethylene, sea, degradation, abundance, pollution, Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Ämneskategorier Marin ekologi


Owing to the development and adoption of a variety of methods for sampling and identifying microplastics, there is now data showing the presence of microplastics in surface waters from all over the world. The difference between the methods, however, hampers comparisons, and to date, most studies are qualitative rather than quantitative. In order to allow for a quantitative comparison of microplastics abundance, it is crucial to understand the differences between sampling methods. Therefore, a manta trawl and an in situ filtering pump were compared during realistic, but controlled, field tests. Identical microplastic analyses of all replicates allowed the differences between the methods with respect to (1) precision, (2) concentrations, and (3) composition to be assessed. The results show that the pump gave higher accuracy with respect to volume than the trawl. The trawl, however, sampled higher concentrations, which appeared to be due to a more efficient sampling of particles on the sea surface microlayer, such as expanded polystyrene and air-filled microspheres. The trawl also sampled a higher volume, which decreased statistical counting uncertainties. A key finding in this study was that, regardless of sampling method, it is critical that a sufficiently high volume is sampled to provide enough particles for statistical evaluation. Due to the patchiness of this type of contaminant, our data indicate that a minimum of 26 particles per sample should be recorded to allow for concentration comparisons and to avoid false null values. The necessary amount of replicates to detect temporal or spatial differences is also discussed. For compositional differences and size distributions, even higher particle counts would be necessary. Quantitative measurements and comparisons would also require an unbiased approach towards both visual and spectroscopic identification. To facilitate the development of such methods, a visual protocol that can be further developed to fit different needs is introduced and discussed. Some of the challenges encountered while using FTIR microspectroscopic particle identification are also critically discussed in relation to specific compositions found.

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