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    Raman spectral libraries specific to microplastics demonstrated improved spectral matching results when weathered plastics and a variety of particle colors and morphologies were included. Here, we explore if this is true for Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy as well. We present two novel databases specific to microplastics using attenuated total reflection (μATR-FTIR): (1) an FTIR library of plastic particles (FLOPP), containing 186 spectra from common plastic items, across 14 polymer types and (2) an FTIR library of plastic particles sourced from the environment (FLOPP-e), containing 195 spectra across 15 polymer types. Both libraries include particles from a variety of sources, morphologies, and colors. We demonstrate the applicability of these libraries for microplastics research by comparing spectral match results from two microplastic datasets. For this, we use different combinations of libraries including: commercially available reference libraries, an open-access polymer library, and FLOPP and FLOPP-e. Among tests, the greatest mean HQI result was achieved when the greatest number of libraries was included. This work demonstrates that spectral libraries specific to plastic particles found in the environment improve the accuracy of spectral matching and are best used in combination with commercial libraries containing chemical components that are commonly found within plastics and other anthropogenic particles. Multivariate principal component analyses of FLOPP and FLOPP-e spectra confirmed differences among polymer types and higher variation in principal component scores among weathered particles, but no patterns were observed among particle colors or morphologies. These results demonstrate that ATR-FTIR analyses are sensitive to weathering of plastics but not to particle color and morphology.


    Hannah De Frond, Ronald Rubinovitz, Chelsea M Rochman. μATR-FTIR Spectral Libraries of Plastic Particles (FLOPP and FLOPP-e) for the Analysis of Microplastics. Analytical chemistry. 2021 Dec 07;93(48):15878-15885

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    PMID: 34813292

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