Methods for analyzing microplastics (MP) can be roughly divided into two categories; simple and budget friendly or more advanced and costly. Common to all existing methods is that they still require more development and validation. There is a need for cheap and fast methods for identifying a broad spectrum of MP with acceptable accuracy, but also advanced methods that can handle the detection of small MP and nanoplast (NP) of various polymer types in environmental samples. In ANDROMEDA, a combination of advanced techniques, such as µFTIR, Raman and SEM-EDX, should be optimized and used for characterization and quantification of MP and NP in the order of 1 µm, 0.2 µm and less. Particular focus will be given to types of MP that are challenging to detect, such as microfibers, paint flakes and tire wear particles.In a masterthesis a method for the detection of MP in air using Nile Red staining was developed. This is a costefficient and fast method, suitable for screening of MP presence in air.
Chemical, biological and physical influences and degradation of plastics in the environment will exacerbate the challenges of detection of the plastic. A large part of the project is therefore dedicated to methodology and application of methods for accelerated degradation of plastics in the laboratory. UV (sunlight), hydrolysis and thermal oxidation will be used for this purpose to obtain realistic plastic fragments and partially degraded materials for further testing in the project. Specific focus will be given to understanding the mechanisms of UV and microbial degradation of plastics while looking at how these are affected by temperature, pH and high pressure. In addition, leakage of chemicals from the plastic will be considered under these conditions.In a master project, TWPs were fed to fish and shrimps over a period of time. to evaluate the leaching of harmful chemicalsinto organisms. The rpesence of these chemicals in different tissue samples over time has been investigated.
A central theme of the project will be quality assurance. Project partners specializing in communication, dissemination and data management will ensure strong involvement of stakeholder groups and effective dissemination of project results.
Current methods for microplastic (MP) analysis can be divided into low-cost versus more advanced methods. ANDROMEDA recognizes that further development and validation is needed for both approaches. Low-cost methods are needed to identify a broad range of MP polymers. Advanced methods need further development to push the limit of detectability for smaller sizes of MP and nanoplastics (NP). Within ANDROMEDA, in situ MP detection, efficient sampling and cost-effective laboratory methods will be optimized to. Approaches will be based on hyperspectral imaging, chemical markers and fluorometric detection techniques to quantify and characterize MP and NP down to 1 µm, 0.2 µm or lower. Specific tasks will focus on challenging types of MP such as microfibers, tire wear particles (TWPs) and paint flakes. Quality assurance will be a central theme in all aspects of the project. Communication and data management will ensure strong stakeholder involvement and outreach of the project results. i