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Work Package 6

The overall objective is to develop new instrument applications (algorithms and protocols) for subsequent benchmarking/trial, study toxicity and research how the plastics are released in drinking water treatment and distribution systems.

Even just for water there are existing challenges for the detection of micro and nanoplastics using current instrument applications. Typically numbers per given volume are reported which is problematic for quantification, and units are not conserved. Different methods, size ranges and approaches are used, and ability to recover plastic and detection limits are seldom reported, making data from even the same model of instrument incomparable. Whilst, some remove particles before analysing them under a microscope prior to spectroscopy, others scan a large area. Therefore, the first challenge will be in defining protocols on how to quantify particles. To this end AAU will lead the development of fast and accurate chemometric methods for automated microplastics quantification based on spectroscopic analysis techniques (μFTIR imaging, μRaman imaging) and for interpretation of pyrograms from pyrolysis-GC-MS analysis. Samples will be provided by various partners (AB and Wessling) with the applications benchmarked against similar applications based on PY-GC-MS by Shimadzu and Wessling, and GLSciences.


Upon successful completion, applications will be developed for other beverages (e.g. beer) and food stuffs (e.g. honey and salt). Beyond M19 it is expected that technology participants (Aston, KTH, WFSR, VUB, IPHT and QUB) from WPs 4 and 5 will test their developed technologies from samples provided by AB and Wessling, benchmarking them against conventional FTIR, Raman and PY-GC-MS instruments at Bruker, AAU, Wessling and GLSciences. These protocols are used to quantify plastics in the following applications. In parallel, QUB will develop and apply bioassays to investigate the effect of micro- nanoplastics on living cells. Pathways for the ingestion and accumulation of micro- nanoplastics in living organisms, and how physical (i.e. size, shape), surface charge, and hydrophilicity properties of the materials can cause adverse impacts on the living activities of cells, will be studied. The findings will contribute to any possible suggested changes in the use of plastics in food industry and household commodities. Finally, AAU, in collaboration with AB and Wessling, will investigate the release of MPs and MPs in drinking water treatment and distribution systems – from source to consumer, researching how the plastic materials of these systems age, deteriorate and shed micro- and nanoplastics.

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