What Effects do Microplastics have on our Health?

Microplastics are omnipresent in today’s society. They can be found almost everywhere, ranging from Arctic snow to Antarctic ice and everywhere in between, including human tissue.

Image Credit: Shutterstock / David Pereiras

Trillions of microplastic particles float on the surface of water. It is assumed that almost everyone, from newborns to adults, ingests between dozens to tens of thousands of these particles each day.

But microplastic science, particularly the extremely tiny, potentially-cell-disrupting nanoplastics, is only the start. The wider effects of these microplastics are not widely-known, mostly because the scale of microplastics is not yet fully established. They are, by definition, hard to see, unless you are able to look and study them in a second dimension.

Techniques do exist for identifying single microplastic particles are well-known, such as Fourier-Transform Infrared (FTIR) and Raman spectroscopy, but they are also limited when it comes to analyzing polymer-chemical mixtures, small particle sizes and sample analysis time.

When trying to overcome a problem of such a large scale, laborious and restricted techniques can struggle to keep up to speed with the demand. A full-scan chromatography method, such as Gas Chromatography Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (GC-TOFMS), would enable a complete view of each compound in a given sample.

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When combined with Pyrolysis (Py) and Thermal Desorption (TD) and extended into the second dimension (GCxGC TOFMS), this minimal sample preparation method facilitates powerful chromatographic separation with high-quality deconvoluted mass spectral data.

Microplastic degradation products, additives and other elaborate mixtures of chemicals that are out in the environment can all be detected, resolved and identified in the same sample analysis.

To demonstrate that this is more than just a theory, LECO Europe joined forces with Imperial College, London, and Helmholtz Zentrum, Munich, to conduct a proof-of-concept study to validate this approach of analyzing samples for microplastic particles.

Learn more via the article published in Chromatography Today.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by LECO Corporation.

For more information on this source, please visit LECO Corporation.

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