Nile Red Staining as a Subsidiary Method for Microplastic Quantifica-tion: A Comparison of Three Solvents and Factors Influencing Application Reliability

Co-Authors

Matthias Tamminga, Elena Hengstmann, Elke Kerstin Fischer

Citation

Matthias Tamminga, Nile Red Staining as a Subsidiary Method for Microplastic Quantifica-tion: A Comparison of Three Solvents and Factors Influencing Application Reliability(2017)SDRP Journal of Earth Sciences & Environmental Studies 2(2)

Abstract

The identification of microplastics is a challenging task to the scientific community, especially as ana-lytical methods limit sample numbers due to high expenses and time consuming procedures. Quantifying microplastics by staining with Nile Red can be helpful in distinguishing these particles from other inorganic (e.g. sediment) or organic (e.g. plant material) matter. The benefits of acetone, chloroform and n-hexane as solvents for Nile Red were investigated. Various polymer types, namely high-density and low-density polyethylene (HDPE, LDPE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyamide (PA), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and cellulose acetate (CA), several post-consumer products (freezing bag, bottle cap, plastic bottle, styrofoam, fishing line, food container, pipe and cigarette butt) as well as biogenic material (algae, hard plant material, soft plant material) were used as reference material. Chloroform has demonstrated to be the most suitable solvent achieving recovery rates of 83.3% for the group of HDPE and LDPE, PP and PVC being the most demanded polymer types in Europe. However, the proposed method does not reach the reliability of Raman-spectroscopy or Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Though, it can aid the assessment of microplastic abundances. Staining with Nile Red does not require expensive equipment and allows the quick evaluation of a large number of samples.

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