When good intentions go bad


A further study as part of the MicBin joint project in the research program "Plastic in the Environment" provides clues as to how misinterpretations in microplastic analysis can arise and how they should be dealt with. According to a freely accessible abstract, the study furnishes proof that disposable laboratory gloves can be a source of false positive microplastic detection. The authors give recommendations as to how to reduce the risk of sample contamination or misinterpretation during sampling, sample preparation and analysis.

The authors of the study "When Good Intentions Go Bad – False Positive Microplastic Detection Caused by Disposable Gloves", which is published by Environmental Science & Technology and can be consulted for a fee at ACS Publications, write that the detection of ubiquitous microplastics represents an analytical challenge. During sampling, sample preparation and finally during analysis, a high risk exists of sample contamination. This study investigates the potential of sample contamination or misinterpretation due to substances associated with disposable laboratory gloves or reagents used during sample preparation. To do this, the authors analyzed the leachates from ten different types of disposable gloves and found polyethylene (PE) in nearly all of them. It was apparently stearates and fatty acids that were falsely identified as polyethylene with conventional analysis methods. Equally, the sodium dodecyl sulfate frequently used as a detergent substance in microplastic research for specimen preparation may be confused with PE and thus lead to a considerable overestimate of the amount of PE.

To the publication: https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c03742


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