An important component of microplastic research is development of reproducible methods for microplastic recovery and characterization. Presented is a review of the literature comparing microplastic separation and identification methodologies from seawater, sediment and marine organisms. The efficiency of methods was examined, including processing time, recovery rates, and potential destruction of microplastics. Visual examination and acid digestion were the most common separation methods for seawater samples and organisms, while density flotation was the primary method for sediment. Few studies reported recovery rates, or investigated the physical or chemical impact on plastics. This knowledge gap may lead to misidentification of plastic or unreliable pollution estimates. Further investigation of the impact chemical treatments have on plastic is warranted. Factors, i.e. biomass loading, recovery rates, and chemical compatibility, must be considered to allow for appropriate methodology. Standardizing this will contribute to efficient sample processing, and allow for direct comparison of microplastic contamination across environments.
M. E. Miller, F. J. Kroon, C. A. Motti, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 6 September 2017, In Press