Microplastics Identification by Pyrolysis Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (py-GCMS)

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Since the emergence of mass produced plastics in the 1940s, the global appetite for these materials has skyrocketed. Due to the widespread use and disposal of plastics, the presence of microplastics (MP) is now ubiquitous in the environment. Identification of MP found in environmental samples is important for source apportionment and the evaluation of the adverse health effects to humans and wildlife. Analysis can be difficult due to the complex nature of these materials and their small sizes. Infrared spectroscopy (IR) has been demonstrated as an appropriate technique to characterize these materials; however limitations occur in the detection of small sample sizes. Pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry (py-GCMS) is a technique that can overcome many of the analytical challenges associated with very small sample sizes. This method also provides more detail concerning the structure of these materials such as differentiating low-density versus high-density and various forms for polyesters (PET, PTT, PBT). We have developed a method using pv-GCMS for MP identification and have analyzed MP samples from surface waters, karst waters, and sediments.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2019 Emerging Contaminants in the Environment Conference (ECEC19)
StatePublished - May 1 2019


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