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Spectral imaging of microplastics

(Funded by SFI-IRC Pathway Programme)

Keywords: microplastics, nanoplastics, food contact materials, health, FTIR, Raman, O-PTIR

Keywords: microplastics, nanoplastics, food contact materials, health, FTIR, Raman, O-PTIR


The direct release of micro(nano)plastics from plastic food packaging materials through everyday use, especially during food preparation involving high temperatures, is the major route for human exposure. Up to now, due to challenges in detecting and monitoring micro(nano)plastics, the capacity of plastic products to release plastic particles, and the adverse effects on human health are largely unknown. The overarching aim of this project is to progress towards a deep understanding of micro(nano)plastic release into food from plastic packaging materials and their harmful effects on human cells related to micro(nano)plastics differing in chemistry, size, shape, and abundance. This innovative project will employ a holistic approach using a unique integration of multiple spectral imaging modalities (e.g., FTIR, Raman, O-PTIR and AFM-IR), advanced data analysis (e.g., spectral unmixing and machine learning), and state-of-the-art analytical techniques. The project will focus on (1) developing a spectral imaging framework to accurately and efficiently quantify plastic particles, (2) unravelling the underlying mechanism driving the micro(nano)plastic release from commercial products during daily usage, and (3) improving understanding of the interactions between micro(nano)plastics and human cells based on a realistic human exposure. Far-reaching implications beyond academia are expected, facilitating science-based policy helping to improve standards for the production and durability of plastic products.

Publication: A review of potential human health impacts of micro- and nanoplastics exposure. (opens in a new window)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.158111

Contact the Spectral Imaging Research Group

S040, Science Centre South, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 2601 | E: aoife.gowen@ucd.ie | Location Map(opens in a new window)