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When every particle counts: IOW develops comprehensive guidelines for microplastic extraction from environmental samples

separating funnel for density separation of microplastics
Newly developed at the IOW: Microplastics (green glowing dots) can be separated from mineral sediment (blue-violet layer) by density separation. (Photo: IOW / K. Enders)

Today, microplastics can be detected in almost every ecosystem in the world. Despite intensive research into this massive environmental problem, it is still a challenge to identify and quantify these synthetic particles made of various types of plastic in environmental samples. A team of researchers at the IOW has now for the first time compiled a comprehensive overview of methods that enables the use of standardized microplastics extraction workflows optimized for samples with very different properties. This includes methods newly developed at the IOW, among them protocols suitable for detecting particles smaller than 0.5 millimetres.

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