In recent years the pollution of soil and oceans has drastically increased, affecting the food chain and consequently causing damage to plant life, contaminating fauna and damaging human health.
Among the major contaminants, microplastics play a relevant role and even though several techniques have been proposed to analyse the presence of such material in water, the overall data are largely incomplete.
A group of Italian researchers (F. Merola et al.) have proposed using a non-invasive technique based on digital holography to search for and reconstruct the shape of different types of microplastics in water.
They report in the European Physical Journal Plus how it is possible to identify different fragments of the most used types of plastic (such as PET, PVC, PP, PE and PS), which heavily contaminate the seas, and how this high-resolution technique is able to distinguish plastics from organisms such as diatoms, a major group of microalgae living in the marine environment.
The scientists now want to apply this analysis directly to samples taken from the oceans, after the methodology worked well in lab experiments.
This study highlights the importance of developing new approaches in order to tackle the “worldwide garbage patch” issue, which we as humans are responsible for.
By Lisa Scalone, Springer-Verlag GmbH