Self-contamination from clothing in microplastics research

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Self-contamination should not be underestimated when quantifying microplastics (MPs) in environmental matrices. Standardised and validated methodologies for MP sampling, extraction, and analysis are lacking. The various applications of plastics in our society have made them ubiquitous, even in clothing, rendering MP self-contamination inevitable. In the present study, we sampled lake sediment, snow, and ice, purposefully wearing red overalls composed of cotton; fibres from which we could quantify using Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), serving as an indication of possible self-contamination from clothes. The suitability of cotton as a representation of MP contamination was also evaluated. For all detected fibres, 25 ± 1%, 20 ± 7%, and 8 ± 6% for snow, ice, and sediment, respectively, originated from sampling attire. These findings demonstrate that self-contamination can play a significant role when quantifying MP pollution, highlighting that sampling conducted to date might have overestimated the presence of MP or even contaminated MP-free samples.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110036
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 1172 Environmental sciences

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