Extraction and Characterization of Microplastics from Organic Solid Matrices and their Remediation

Document Type


Source of Publication

Environmental Geotechnics

Publication Date



Plastics have become an essential commodity due to their superior engineering properties, durability and low cost to be used by a wide range of commercial products. However, the degradation of plastics due to mechanical, chemical, biological, and photolytic stresses has led to the formation of microplastics (MPs). MPs have risen to the top of environmental concerns due to their affinity to pollute the environment, and to pass to the food chain, threatening human health. In this context, attempts have been made to extract and characterize MPs from aqueous and solid matrices. A problem that not only hampers research but also regulatory decisions is the variety of methods used for the extraction and characterization of MPs, especially in organic solid matrices (OSMs) with organic (OM) > 5%, making the comparison of results difficult. This paper aims to address this need, by critically assessing the methodologies and protocols used for extraction of MPs from OSMs, which includes sample collection, dispersion, OM removal, and separation, as well as the qualitative and quantitative characterization of MPs. Further, current impediments in the accurate characterization of MPs are identified along with recommendations for future developments. Finally, recent efforts by various countries to legislate against certain sources of MPs, as well as issues and novel techniques to remediate MPs from the soil, and wastewater have been highlighted.




ICE publishing


Environmental Engineering

Scopus ID


Indexed in Scopus


Open Access