Microplastics can be present in the environment as manufactured microplastics (known as primary microplastics) or resulting from the continuous weathering of plastic litter, which yields progressively smaller plastic fragments (known as secondary microplastics). Herein, we discuss the numerous issues associated with the analysis of microplastics, and to a less extent of nanoplastics, in environmental samples (water, sediments, and biological tissues), from their sampling and sample handling to their identification and quantification. The analytical quality control and quality assurance associated with the validation of analytical methods and use of reference materials for the quantification of microplastics are also discussed, as well as the current challenges within this field of research and possible routes to overcome such limitations.
Ana B. Silva, Ana S. Bastos, Celine I.L. Justino and al., Analytica Chimica Acta, Available online 20 February 2018, In Press