There has been much publicity and comment in most branches in the media regarding plastics in the marine environment. Of most concern is that micro plastic particles have been found in the internal organs of marine creature from krill upwards in the food chain.
Edwards’ Analytical Ltd has in it’s spectroscopy laboratory two Perkin Elmer FT-IR spectrophotometers, the first is a Spectrum 100 with a uATR which can identify plastics greater than 5mm diameter. The other is a Spotlight 400 with an infra-red microscope. This latter instrument can identify particles to 5um diameter, distinguish between plastics and inorganic particles and provide optical images.
From the identity of the particles, the source can be surmised, eg PET from plastic bottles, PVC from medical equipment and construction industry, PE from plastic packaging and titanium dioxide from cosmetics. As a corollary, the Spotlight 400 can be used to examine cosmetics & healthcare products for microparticles.