Both categories of microplastics, primary and secondary, have been found to persist in the environment in large quantities, especially in marine and aquatic ecosystems. This is because plastic deforms but does not break for many years, it can be ingested and accumulated in the body and tissues of many organisms.
The entire cycle and movement of microplastics in the environment has not yet been studied in depth, especially due to the difficulty of analyzing a mixture of various types of more or less inert plastics. The United States has been identified as the country with the highest contamination rate: values reaching up to 94%, with fibers found in tap water also sampled in the buildings of the United States Capitol, at the headquarters of the United States Protection of the Environment Agency, and even in the Trump Tower in New York.
Microplastics pose a serious threat to small marine living beings, which tend to feed on them, mistaking them for plankton. These minor organisms are in turn inserted into the food chain and ingested by larger living beings and their predators.
The chain can continue until it reaches our tables. Controlling the release of these plastics into the environment therefore means safeguarding marine fauna. Many marine animals such as seagulls or seals have ingested microplastics, affecting health.
Optical detection of microplastics in water
The study: Optical detection of microplastics in water, published on the Environmental science and pollution research international, explained: "Unfortunately, the plastic pollution increases at an exponential rate and drastically endangers the marine ecosystem.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), microplastics in drinking water have become a concern and may be a risk to human health. One of the major efforts to fight against this problem is developing easy-to-use, low-cost, portable microplastic detection systems.
To address this issue, here, we present our prototype device based on an optical system that can help detect the microplastics in water. This system that costs less than $ 370 is essentially a low-cost Raman spectrometer.
It includes a collimated laser (5 mW), a sample holder, a notch filter, a diffraction grating, and a CCD sensor all integrated in a 3D printed case. Our experiments show that our system is capable of detecting microplastics in water having a conce ntration less than 0.015% w / v.
We believe that the designed portable device can find a widespread use all over the world to monitor the microplastic content in an easier and cost-effective manner. "