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Monitoring of Microplastics in the Marine Environment

Changing Directions towards Quality Controlled Tailored Solutions

image of Monitoring of Microplastics in the Marine Environment

The need for harmonized monitoring protocols for marine microplastic has been discussed for many years, but how to reach this goal has not been agreed upon. Important questions addressed when microplastics are monitored are: how to carry out field sampling, how to eliminate other particulate matter from a sample without harming the microplastics, and how to accurately identify the particles, while also preventing and assessing potential sample contamination at each step from sampling to analyses. In the project HARMIC, Nordic scientist with long term experience in microplastic research, applied and evaluated different methods for sampling and sample preparation relevant for the establishment of common guidelines. The outcomes of the studies are discussed from a monitoring perspective, including aspects of quality assurance and quality control.

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Experiences from HARMIC studies

In the HARMIC project, four methodological studies were carried out with the purpose of optimizing the analysis of microplastics in seawater and marine sediments. Two of the studies focused on the collection of water samples and investigated how the measured microplastic concentrations were affected depending on how and where the sampling of seawater was carried out, while the other two studies compared methods for the preparation of water and sediment samples prior to the actual analyses of microplastic particles. The following basic quality criteria were set up for the different steps of microplastics sampling and analysis as directed towards microplastics monitoring:

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