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Polymer Type Identification of Marine Plastic Litter Using a Miniature Near-Infrared Spectrometer (MicroNIR)

Vitenskapelig artikkel
Applied Sciences
Eksterne nettsted
Svetlana Pakhomova, Igor Zhdanov, Bert van Bavel


Plastic pollution in the marine environment has turned into an important research topic in recent decades. Until recently, studies were often based on visual assessment only, which is not enough to draw any conclusion about the chemical nature of found plastic items and could lead to incorrect results. Standardized, fast, and efficient low-cost methods for marine plastic litter identification are urgently needed to monitor the occurrence and distribution worldwide. In this paper, we demonstrate that a miniaturized handheld near-infrared spectrometer—MicroNIR—can be used for on-site identification of different plastic polymers. A database containing polymer spectra of the most produced and reported polymer types in the marine environment was created including polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polystyrene (PS), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyamide (PA), polycarbonate (PC), polyurethane (PUR), and Silicone. Using spectral match value (SMV, included in the instrument software) for spectra analysis resulted in an accurate classification of all nine polymer types. The method was used for the identification of marine macro-, meso-, and microplastic litter collected on beaches in sediments and seawater and enabled the correct identification of marine plastic litter for macro-, meso- (96%), and microplastics (73%) with exception of totally black items and items less than 1 mm in size. The method and instrumentation presented here are very well suited to support “Citizen Science” marine litter monitoring projects during beach cleaning and similar activities.