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Article

Prioritizing Suitable Quality Assurance and Control Standards to Reduce Laboratory Airborne Microfibre Contamination in Sediment Samples

Department of Earth Sciences, University of Western Ontario, London, ON N6A 5B7, Canada
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Teresa A. P. Rocha-Santos and Joana C. Prata
Received: 23 June 2021 / Revised: 16 August 2021 / Accepted: 31 August 2021 / Published: 3 September 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plastic Contamination: Challenges and Solutions)
The ubiquity and distribution of microplastics, particularly microfibres, in outdoor and indoor environments makes it challenging when assessing and controlling background contamination, as atmospheric particles can be unintentionally introduced into a sample during laboratory analysis. As such, an intra-laboratory examination and literature review was completed to quantify background contamination in sediment samples, in addition to comparing reported quality assurance and control (QA/QC) protocols in 50 studies examining microplastics in sediment from 2010 to 2021. The intra-lab analysis prioritizes negative controls, placing procedural blanks in various working labs designed to prepare, process, and microscopically analyse microplastics in sediment. All four labs are subject to microfibre contamination; however, following the addition of alternative clean-air devices (microscope enclosure and HEPA air purifiers), contamination decreased by 66% in laboratory B, and 70% in laboratory C. A review of microplastic studies suggests that 82% are not including or reporting alternative clean-air devices in their QA/QC approaches. These studies are found to be at greater risk of secondary contamination, as 72% of them ranked as medium to high contamination risk. It is imperative that laboratories incorporate matrix-specific QA/QC approaches to minimize false positives and improve transparency and harmonization across studies. View Full-Text
Keywords: microplastics; quality assurance; quality control; microfibres; sediment; airborne contamination microplastics; quality assurance; quality control; microfibres; sediment; airborne contamination
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MDPI and ACS Style

Belontz, S.L.; Corcoran, P.L. Prioritizing Suitable Quality Assurance and Control Standards to Reduce Laboratory Airborne Microfibre Contamination in Sediment Samples. Environments 2021, 8, 89. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8090089

AMA Style

Belontz SL, Corcoran PL. Prioritizing Suitable Quality Assurance and Control Standards to Reduce Laboratory Airborne Microfibre Contamination in Sediment Samples. Environments. 2021; 8(9):89. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8090089

Chicago/Turabian Style

Belontz, Sara L., and Patricia L. Corcoran. 2021. "Prioritizing Suitable Quality Assurance and Control Standards to Reduce Laboratory Airborne Microfibre Contamination in Sediment Samples" Environments 8, no. 9: 89. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8090089

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