OUR ANALYSIS PROCESS

After we’ve received your samples, we will use the following thorough analysis process to provide free, public scientific data on beach microplastics:

 

SAMPLE PREPARATION

Samples are first dried at 60 degrees Celsius for 48 hours. Samples are then passed through a 5-millimetre sieve, and the material that passed through the sieve is used in the next analysis step.

DENSITY SEPARATION

Using the separation apparatus shown below and a saturated zinc chloride solution, the microplastics are separated from beach sand and filtered through a 25-micrometer mesh. This step is repeated multiple times to maximum collection efficiency.  After which, the 25-micrometer mesh is dried and the microplastic samples are placed in a sterilized petri dish for analysis.

ANALYSIS

Using micro Raman spectroscopy, the microplastics are identified by polymer, and the distribution of each polymer (in % by particle count) is recorded.  This data is then released on our website for each beach and region.  We have purposely avoided subjective analysis techniques such as visually counting microplastic particles, instead, all samples are archived and made available to researchers upon request if they wish to conduct their own analysis.

The analysis process was modelled after the standardized methodology proposed by Vijver et al.

 
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DENSITY SEPARATOR

This separation apparatus was based on the device created by Coppock et al. as it was a cheap, effective method for microplastic extraction from sediments with reproducible recovery rates of 95.8%.

 

Victoria, BC, Canada

©2020 by The Coastal Microplastics Project.