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N10

Determination of microplastics in samples of organic and inorganic matrices

Prof. Margherita Ferrante, University of Catania; Prof. Gea Marzia Stefania Oliveri Conti, University of Catania; Dr Pietro Zuccarello, University of Catania

Università of Catania


Challenge

The current methodologies used world wide, for example the μFTIR and μRAMAN techniques, show several limitations in the identification and in the determination of plastic particles smaller than 10 micrometers that is a dimension below the sensibility of detection of these techniques. In addition, all current techniques of investigation use the filtration as a recovery system for microplastics. Our invention overcomes the important limit of using a filtration process to collect microparticles, thus avoiding the loss of particles smaller than the filter pore size.


Technology

This innovative method for the extraction and determination of microplastics in samples with organic and inorganic matrices allows the real quantification of microplastics for almost all types of plastic in all types of samples (environmental and biological). It's based on a chemical extraction and Scanning Electron Microscopy coupled to Energy Dispersive X-ray (SEM-EDX) Analysis. Our invention allows to measure microplastics from 0.1 to 10 microns without the use of filters, allowing the extraction of all the microplastics present in the sample and their identification and count by scanning electron microscopy with EDX detector. The innovative  extraction method is combined with common applications of scanning microscopy. The method allows to analyze all types of samples from industrial to environmental, plant, animal and human origin. Furthermore, it is possible to calculate the quantity of plastic ingested, breathed or absorbed by the dermal route. Also the cost reduction and an ease of application make this invention an important tool.


Commercial Opportunity

Environmental and food quality analysis, biomedical and forensic-medical applications industrial applications for product quality certification, packaging control and transfer test, research and development.


Development Status

The methodology is fully developed and ready for its commercialization. It is possible to market the invention as a kit to be used along with a SEM microscopy.


Patent Situation

The Italian Patent has been granted and the PCT application has been filed.


Further Reading

  • 1: Zuccarello P, Ferrante M, Cristaldi A, Copat C, Grasso A, Sangregorio D, Fiore M, Oliveri Conti G. Exposure to microplastics (<10 μm) associated to plastic bottles mineral water consumption: The first quantitative study. Water Res. 2019 Jun 15;157:365-371. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2019.03.091. Epub 2019 Mar 29. PubMed PMID: 30974285.
  • 2: Zuccarello P, Ferrante M, Cristaldi A, Copat C, Grasso A, Sangregorio D, Fiore M, Oliveri Conti G. Reply for comment on "Exposure to microplastics (<10 μm) associated to plastic bottles mineral water consumption: The first quantitative study by Zuccarello et al. [Water Research 157 (2019) 365-371]". Water Res. 2019 Dec 1;166:115077. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2019.115077. Epub 2019 Sep 13. PubMed PMID: 31546101.

 

Determination of microplastics in samples of organic and inorganic matrices