Quantitative analysis of PET microplastics in environmental model samples using quantitative 1H-NMR spectroscopy: validation of an optimized and consistent sample clean-up method

  • Nadine Peez
  • Jochen Becker
  • Sonja M. Ehlers
  • Melanie Fritz
  • Christian B. Fischer
  • Jochen H. E. Koop
  • Carola Winkelmann
  • Wolfgang ImhofEmail author
Research Paper


Identification and quantification of microplastics (MP) in environmental samples is crucial for understanding the risk and distribution of MP in the environment. Currently, quantification of MP particles in environmental samples and the comparability of different matrices is a major research topic. Research also focusses on sample preparation, since environmental samples must be free of inorganic and organic matrix components for the MP analysis. Therefore, we would like to propose a new method that allows the comparison of the results of MP analysis from different environmental matrices and gives a MP concentration in mass of MP particles per gram of environmental sample. This is possible by developing and validating an optimized and consistent sample preparation scheme for quantitative analysis of MP particles in environmental model samples in conjunction with quantitative 1H-NMR spectroscopy (qNMR). We evaluated for the first time the effects of different environmental matrices on identification and quantification of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) fibers using the qNMR method. Furthermore, high recovery rates were obtained from spiked environmental model samples (without matrix ~ 90%, sediment ~ 97%, freshwater ~ 94%, aquatic biofilm ~ 95%, and invertebrate matrix ~ 72%), demonstrating the high analytical potential of the method.

Graphical abstract


Microplastic Sample preparation Matrix effects qNMR PET fibers Quantification 



The authors thank Prof. Dr. B. Hahn and M. Albanna (University of Applied Science, RheinAhrCampus, Remagen, Germany) for SEM support. Furthermore, we thank Lana Vuleta for proofreading.

Funding information

The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (INST 366/6-1) for the purchase of the NMR spectrometer. The authors also acknowledge financial support of the research fund of University Koblenz - Landau.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

216_2019_2089_MOESM1_ESM.docx (2.9 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 2.94 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nadine Peez
    • 1
  • Jochen Becker
    • 1
  • Sonja M. Ehlers
    • 1
    • 2
  • Melanie Fritz
    • 1
  • Christian B. Fischer
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jochen H. E. Koop
    • 2
  • Carola Winkelmann
    • 1
  • Wolfgang Imhof
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Integrated Natural SciencesUniversity Koblenz-LandauKoblenzGermany
  2. 2.Department of Animal EcologyFederal Institute of HydrologyKoblenzGermany
  3. 3.Materials Science and Nano-engineering DepartmentMohammed VI Polytechnic UniversityBen GuerirMorocco

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