Date of Award
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Microplastics pollution is an emerging research and policy topic. Standardized methods are not yet established for scientific studies or compliance with legislation requiring monitoring of microplastics. This study combines the work done in the laboratory detecting and counting microplastics in samples from the Mississippi River and in oysters from the Mississippi Sound with a literature review on microplastic pollution policy. In the laboratory, I helped prepare samples for analyses using a novel one-pot method that led to a publication in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Later, I compared visual counting of microplastics stained with Nile Red dye using a microscope and with that determined by the software of a fluorescence microscope. There were notable differences between the visual count and the count automated by the computer program. Regarding policies on microplastic pollution, currently the European Union (EU) has the most and the strictest regulations. In addition to banning microbeads, like in the United States, the EU has approved and began implementing a levy on plastics. The United States, on the other hand, has no federal laws concerning microplastics. Methods standardization and interlaboratory calibration has been a huge concern because it is imperative that the research and empirical data informing legislation is reliable and accurate. It is also important that those who are required to monitor microplastics have the instrumentation and expertise to do so or else the legislation will not be implemented effectively or have the desired outcome. The research community and others involved in informing policy decisions should consider prioritizing the development of standardized research methods.
Missling, Klara, "Microplastic Pollution: Analytical Method Development and Current Policy" (2021). Honors Theses. 1672.
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