Microplastics are ubiquitous in the environment, are frequently ingested by organisms, and may potentially cause harm. A range of studies have found significant levels of microplastics in beach sand. However, there is a considerable amount of methodological variability among these studies. Methodological variation currently limits comparisons as there is no standard procedure for sampling or extraction of microplastics. We identify key sampling and extraction procedures across the literature through a detailed review. We find that sampling depth, sampling location, number of repeat extractions, and settling times are the critical parameters of variation. Next, using a case-study we determine whether and to what extent these differences impact study outcomes. By investigating the common practices identified in the literature with the case-study, we provide a standard operating procedure for sampling and extracting microplastics from beach sand.
Aiken Besley, Martina G. Vijver, Paul Behrens, Thijs Bosker, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 114, Issue 1, 15 January 2017, Pages 77–83