The Ocean Diagnostics Lab is a cutting-edge analytical suite to measure plastics, microplastics and microfibers
Plastics and microplastics are diverse and complex materials. A suite of laboratory techniques is needed to effectively characterize and analyze microplastics and fibres so their source and fate can be better understood. Our laboratory is continually innovating technology and techniques so as to provide our partners with the support needed to influence positive action on plastic pollution.
Analysis of plastic particles typically requires their isolation through the use of filtration, oxidative treatments, and extraction methods. Our team is skilled in isolating plastic particles and microplastics from diverse samples, from complex matrices like wastewater to biological samples like fish intestines. Preparation is performed under air quality-controlled conditions, including Class 100 Clean Lab facility, to minimize airborne contamination.
We use a toolbox of analytical capabilities to support diverse needs:
Optical imaging technology, Saturna, for rapid and standardized enumeration and morphological characterization of plastic particles (> 0.5 mm)
Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and Raman spectroscopy for material source identification (e.g. polyethylene, polypropylene). These techniques can be used in single-point and automated modes depending on the project goals, budget and scope. Analysis results in data on the total abundance, morphology, sizes and chemical composition of microplastics. Microplastic as low as 1-10 um in size can be determined.
Data is obtained by our skilled analysts and accessible on our cloud-based data portal Mariana. Datasets come with a customized Quality Assurance/Quality Control report and our team can provide support interpreting the data.
Plastic pollution threatens the environment, human health and economy. Our lab provides the diagnostic measurements needed for informed decisions by stakeholders in the different domains of the plastic pollution problem, from material source to sea.
Plastic pollution spans diverse sources and sizes, from large plastic items to broken down pieces known as microplastics. Microplastics are generally defined as synthetic particles between 5 mm to 1 um in size. They also include particles that are intentionally added to certain products, like microbeads in toothpaste, or particles released during product manufacture and use, like clothing and car tires.
Microplastics have been found in all types of environments and wildlife around the world and even in drinking water. Their prevalence was highlighted in our recent scientific research on Arctic water and food web.
Our team’s analytical expertise and academic partnerships intersect diverse areas of the plastic pollution problem including material design, wastewater engineering, ecotoxicology, environmental monitoring, and community science.
Our analytical team researches and analyzes plastics and microplastics to support scientific progress, policy, industry action and behavior change.
We have assessed plastic fiber releases from clothing during home laundry and evaluated microplastic contamination in the Arctic Sea Beluga food web.
We contribute to the development, testing and adoption of standard methods to quantify, characterize and measure source, transportation and fate or microplastics and microfibers.
We stay on top of international and regulatory actions for plastics and microplastic.
Interested in our analysis capabilities? Tell us about your project to receive a personalized quote.