Validation of ATR FT-IR to identify polymers of plastic marine debris, including those ingested by marine organisms

Marine Pollution Bulletin
By: , and 

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Abstract

Polymer identification of plastic marine debris can help identify its sources, degradation, and fate. We optimized and validated a fast, simple, and accessible technique, attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR FT-IR), to identify polymers contained in plastic ingested by sea turtles. Spectra of consumer good items with known resin identification codes #1–6 and several #7 plastics were compared to standard and raw manufactured polymers. High temperature size exclusion chromatography measurements confirmed ATR FT-IR could differentiate these polymers. High-density (HDPE) and low-density polyethylene (LDPE) discrimination is challenging but a clear step-by-step guide is provided that identified 78% of ingested PE samples. The optimal cleaning methods consisted of wiping ingested pieces with water or cutting. Of 828 ingested plastics pieces from 50 Pacific sea turtles, 96% were identified by ATR FT-IR as HDPE, LDPE, unknown PE, polypropylene (PP), PE and PP mixtures, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride, and nylon.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Validation of ATR FT-IR to identify polymers of plastic marine debris, including those ingested by marine organisms
Series title Marine Pollution Bulletin
DOI 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.12.061
Volume 127
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) National Wildlife Health Center
Description 13 p.
First page 704
Last page 716