Title

Qualitative and quantitative analysis of microplastics in commercial food and personal-care packaging products

Poster Number

1B

Lead Author Affiliation

PCSP Program

Lead Author Status

Doctoral Student

Second Author Affiliation

Biochemistry

Third Author Affiliation

Biology

Introduction

Since 1950, approximately 9.1 billion tons of plastics have been produced all around the world. Plastics are found in everyday life ranging from disposable bottled beverages and food packaging products to consumer electronics and children’s toys. Several types of plastics currently in use include but are not limited to polystyrene, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and bisphenol A (BPA). Following their use, many of these plastics can be found accumulating in landfills and marine ecosystems: but their life cycle does not end there. Photodegradation is the process that occurs when plastics are exposed to sunlight for long time periods resulting in the breakdown of macroplastics into microplastics ranging anywhere from 1 - 5 micrometers. Because of their size, these microplastics might be washed into the soil and become abiotic factors in marine ecosystems. With the prominence of plastics in commercial product packaging spanning from foods to cosmetics, the recent discussion of microplastics has brought into question the degree to which microplastics contaminate everyday products. The goal of this project is to determine if microplastics are found in food and personal care product packaging and, if so, to quantify their concentrations in routinely-used products.

Purpose

With the prominence of plastics in commercial product packaging spanning from foods to cosmetics, the recent discussion of microplastics has brought into question the degree to which microplastics contaminate everyday products. The goal of this project is to determine if microplastics are found in food and personal care product packaging and, if so, to quantify their concentrations in routinely-used products.

Method

The identification of microplastics was done through the use of Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) where the detected spectra of the samples were compared to spectra in an online database. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) was used to develop a method for the quantification of possible microplastics in our samples. A linear regression was created with the concentration of the IR standards and the integral under the detected proton peak at 7 ppm to be referred to when analyzing the IR spectra of the samples. Pyrolysis-Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry was used to quantify and identify microplastics in samples with several different microplastics present.

Results

We successfully extracted microplastics from facial creams and identified them using FT-IR. Additionally, we have successfully devised a quantification method of polystyrene using nuclear magnetic resonance. Along with polystyrene, we found that cellulose nanocrystals were also prevalent in our yogurt samples. Referencing IR standards from our polystyrene film as a basis to compare our FT-IR spectra from the samples, we were able to verify that polystyrene, potentially along with other microplastics yet to be identified, was present in the tested samples of facial moisturizer.

Significance

The goal of this project is to determine if microplastics are found in food and personal care product packaging and, if so, to quantify their concentrations in routinely-used products.

Location

William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center, University of the Pacific, 3601 Pacific Ave., Stockton, CA 95211

Format

Poster Presentation

Poster Session

Morning

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Apr 30th, 10:00 AM Apr 30th, 12:00 PM

Qualitative and quantitative analysis of microplastics in commercial food and personal-care packaging products

William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center, University of the Pacific, 3601 Pacific Ave., Stockton, CA 95211

Since 1950, approximately 9.1 billion tons of plastics have been produced all around the world. Plastics are found in everyday life ranging from disposable bottled beverages and food packaging products to consumer electronics and children’s toys. Several types of plastics currently in use include but are not limited to polystyrene, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and bisphenol A (BPA). Following their use, many of these plastics can be found accumulating in landfills and marine ecosystems: but their life cycle does not end there. Photodegradation is the process that occurs when plastics are exposed to sunlight for long time periods resulting in the breakdown of macroplastics into microplastics ranging anywhere from 1 - 5 micrometers. Because of their size, these microplastics might be washed into the soil and become abiotic factors in marine ecosystems. With the prominence of plastics in commercial product packaging spanning from foods to cosmetics, the recent discussion of microplastics has brought into question the degree to which microplastics contaminate everyday products. The goal of this project is to determine if microplastics are found in food and personal care product packaging and, if so, to quantify their concentrations in routinely-used products.