Critical evaluation of Nile Red for the detection of Microplastics in environmental samples

, Stutzinger Laura, Primpke Sebastian, Mackay-Roberts Nicholas, Gerdts Gunnar.

The widespread use of plastics in this day and age has resulted in the accumulation of these synthetic polymers in the environment. Upon exposure to physical forces and UV radiation, larger plastic debris have been found to break down into smaller fragments known as microplastics (MP). The pervasive nature of MP and their potential impacts on the biosphere have become cause for growing concern. In an effort to better understand the occurrences of MP in nature, several techniques have been employed throughout existing studies for the detection and identification of MP. Among the most commonly used approach is visual sorting. However, as synthetic and non-synthetic materials can be difficult to distinguish visually, this approach is prone to human error and can result in the misreporting of MP concentrations in nature. As such, this can be circumvented through the use of a staining dye Nile Red (NR). In this study, a critical evaluation of NR staining coupled with quantitative fluorescence imaging as an easy-to-use detection method for MP

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