What you net depends on if you grab: sampling method affects measured microplastic concentration

, Watkins Lisa, Sullivan Patrick J., Walter M. Todd.

Methods used to quantify microplastics are diverse and oftentimes incompatible. In particular, factors that in theory should be unrelated to measured microplastic concentration, such as sampled volume and sampling device used, are in fact strongly correlated with it. We confirmed this by performing a meta-analysis of 100 surface water microplastic studies, including those that pair grab and net samples during collection. We then used the unexpected relationship between sampled volume, sampling device used and concentration measured to itemize and quantify potential explanations for the systematic discrepancies observed.

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