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Detection of trace sub-micron (nano) plastics in water samples using pyrolysis-gas chromatography time of flight mass spectrometry (PY-GCToF). / Trystan, Watson; Peter, Holliman; Eurig, Jones; Sarper, Sarp
Chemosphere, Volume: 249, Start page: 126179
Accepted Manuscript under embargo until: 11th February 2021
The identification and quantification of micro and nanoplastics (MPs and NPs respectively) requires the development of standardised analytical methods. Thermal analysis methods are generally not considered a method of choice for MPs analysis, especially in aqueous samples due to limited sample size...
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The identification and quantification of micro and nanoplastics (MPs and NPs respectively) requires the development of standardised analytical methods. Thermal analysis methods are generally not considered a method of choice for MPs analysis, especially in aqueous samples due to limited sample size introduction to the instrument, decreasing the detection levels. In this article, pyrolysis - Gas chromatography time of flight mass spectrometry (Py-GCToF) is used as a method of choice for detection of MPs and NPs due to its unprecedented detection capabilities, in combination with PTFE membranes as sample support, allow for smaller particle sizes (>0.1 μm) in water samples to be identified. The utilisation of these widely used membranes and the identification of several and specific (marker) ions for the three plastics in study (polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC)), allows for the extraction of individual plastics from complex signals at trace levels. The method was validated against a number of standards, containing known quantities of MPs. Detection levels were then determined for PVC and PS and were found to be below <50 μg/L, with repeatable data showing good precision (%RSD <20%). Further verification of this new method was achieved by the analysis of a complex sample, sourced from a river. The results were positive for the presence of PS with a semi-quantifiable result of 241.8 μg/L. Therefore PY-GCToF seems to be a fit for purpose method for the identification of MPs and NPs from complex mixtures and matrices which have been deposited on PTFE membranes.
Microplastics, Nanoplastics, Pyrolysis, Time of flight mass spectrometry, Micropollutants, Water quality