Microplastics Sampling and Analysis in Wastewater Matrix

Oral Presentation

Prepared by N. Arsem, A. Dyachenko, J. Mitchell
East Bay Municipal Utility District, EBMUD Laboratory, 2020 Wake Avenue, Oakland, CA, 94607-5100, United States

Contact Information: narsem@ebmud.com; 510-287-1435


Microplastics as a pollutant are gaining the attention of activists, regulators and scientists alike. In 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 888, “Plastic Microbeads Nuisance Prevention Law”, which prohibits sale of personal care products containing plastic microbeads effective January 1, 2020. The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 was enacted by the senate and the House of Representatives and signed by the president on December 28, 2015. This law bans the manufacture of rinse-off cosmetic products containing microplastic beads after July 1, 2017 and prohibits the sale of such after July 1, 2018.

A unique aspect of microplastics is that there is no standard definition and there is no standard method for determining concentration. Published data is often difficult to compare due to variability in methodology. However, when microplastics are reported in the media, enormous numbers are reported, as in the case of a New York Times article dated December 22, 2015: “…11 billion microbeads are released into the nation’s waterways each day.” There is a need for bringing the rigorous quality standards routinely employed in environmental laboratories to this discussion. This paper presents work performed to optimize sampling and quantifying microplastics in wastewater matrix.