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Addressing the challenges of microplastic characterisation using thermal desorption

Summary

In this application note, we demonstrate the quantitative analysis of microplastics using direct thermal desorption (TD) combined with gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS). Direct desorption of filtrates containing microplastics provides a simple and streamlined sample preparation step while GC–MS analysis produces informationrich volatile organic compound (VOC) profiles. The VOC profiles contain marker compounds to identify and quantify the plastic, along with other chemical signatures that could prove useful in source apportionment, toxicity assessment and regional profiling.

Analysis of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) particles from bottled drinks is shown to deliver fast, reproducible, quantitative results, providing plastic concentrations in µg/L for particles as small as 0.3 µm in diameter.

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