Nanoplastics in drinking water

It is becoming increasingly clear that plastic is everywhere. That has been demonstrated in numerous environmental compartments, including soil, sediment, surface water and air. Data about the presence of microplastic particles in surface water are sparse, and we know nothing at all about the even smaller fractions.

A major reason for this knowledge gap is that we still do not know how to conduct sampling, analysis and risk assessment in the right way. For example, even though considerable progress has been made on the monitoring of microplastics (20 µm-5 mm), a lot is still unclear with respect to the smaller nanoplastics (50 nm-20 µm) and monitoring methods are still being developed worldwide.

The aim of this project is to develop a new monitoring method for nanoplastics with thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) in conjunction with gas chromatography. Using this technique, a dried water concentrate is pyrolysed and the degradation products are then detected using mass spectrometry. Implementation, sample collection, sample preprocessing, blank procedures and robustness are also important aspects to examine. Ultimately, measurements were made in drinking water at various locations in the Netherlands.