Proposal for an initial screening method for identifying microplastics in marine sediments
Toshiro Hara, Ningjun Jiang
Marine debris, which is often called microplastics, is widespread in marine environments, particularly in sediments, and is recognized as an environmental hazard because it concentrates contaminants, forms biofilms, and sinks into marine sediments. In sediments, it may be ingested by benthos and have a negative impact on higher food chain levels. In this study, a new protocol was developed to identify microplastics in various sediment fractions. This protocol combined sieving and staining based on ordinal geotechnical/geological testing methods. The sieving process was derived from the conventional particle size distribution test, and nontoxic dyes were employed in the staining process. The protocol is safe and easy to perform as it merely involves the use of conventional geological/geotechnical testing equipment. The new protocol was successfully employed to stain and categorize different types and sizes of microplastic particles from contaminated sediments. This safe, easy-to-use, and efficient protocol can serve as the basis for a new alternative approach to study microplastics present in sediments, which can be performed using basic materials familiar to geotechnical/geological engineers.
microplastics, environtal hazard, particles