Every step of microplastic analysis (collection, extraction and characterization) is time-consuming, representing an obstacle to the implementation of large scale monitoring. This study proposes a semi-automated Raman micro-spectroscopy method coupled to static image analysis that allows the screening of a large quantity of microplastic in a time-effective way with minimal machine operator intervention. The method was validated using 103 particles collected at the sea surface spiked with 7 standard plastics: morphological and chemical characterization of particles was performed in < 3 h. The method was then applied to a larger environmental sample (n = 962 particles). The identification rate was 75% and significantly decreased as a function of particle size. Microplastics represented 71% of the identified particles and significant size differences were observed: polystyrene was mainly found in the 2–5 mm range (59%), polyethylene in the 1–2 mm range (40%) and polypropylene in the 0.335–1 mm range (42%).
Frère L., Paul-Pont I., Moreau J., Soudant P., Lambert C., Huvet A., Rinnert E., Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 113, Issues 1–2, 15 December 2016, Pages 461–468