A harmonization of sampling, sample preparation and detection is pivotal in order to obtain comparable data on microplastics (MP) in the environment. This paper develops and proposes a suitable sampling concept for waterbodies that considers different plastic specific properties and influencing factors in the environment. Both artificial water including defined MP fractions and the discharge of a wastewater treatment plant were used to verify the derived sampling procedure, sample preparation and the subsequent analysis of MP using thermal extraction-desorption gas chromatography – mass spectrometry (TED-GC-MS). A major finding of this paper is that an application of various particle size classes greatly improves the practical handling of the sampling equipment. Size classes also enable the TED-GC-MS to provide any data on the MP size distribution, a substantial sampling property affecting both the necessary sampling volume and the optimal sampling depth.In the artificial water with defined MP fractions, the recovery rates ranged from 80 to 110%, depending on the different MP types and MP size classes. In the treated wastewater, we found both polyethylene and polystyrene in different size classes and quantities.
Claus Gerhard Bannick, Regine Szewzyk, Mathias Ricking and al., Water Research, Volume 149, 1 February 2019, Pages 650-658