Quantitative analysis of micro- and nano-plastics in environmental samples by pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry

June 21st, 2024

Presentation by Dr Elvis Okoffo (The University of Queensland)

Micro-plastics contamination within environmental samples is now widely described and through recent analytical developments nano-plastics contamination has begun to be reported. However, little is currently known about the size distribution of micro- and nano -plastics contamination of environmental samples. Pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (Pyr-GC/MS) has recently emerged as a quantitative technique for the analysis of micro- and nano-plastics contamination of environmental samples. This includes seafood and potable water destined for human consumption through to biosolids (sewage sludge) destined for agricultural applications and plastics in marine sediments, and wastewater. In this presentation we will provide an overview on the use of pressurised liquid extraction and/or Amicon Stirred Cell ultrafiltration followed by Py-GC/MS for the analysis of micro- and nano-plastics in complex environmental samples. Additionally, we will discuss how sequential size fractionation prior to analysis can be used as a quantitative method to determine size distribution of micro- and nano-plastics. Limitations of this methodology will be discussed, in conjunction with recommendations on how this workflow can advance future research on micro – and nano-plastics contamination.