Measuring Microplastics Workshop

An April 4, 2019 workshop at SCCWRP to discuss a path toward standardizing methods for measuring microplastics in the environment

Measuring Microplastics: Building Best Practices for Sampling, Extraction and Analysis

Hosted by: HORIBA Inc., SCCWRP and the University of Toronto

In coordination with the State of California Water Resources Control Board and the California Ocean Protection Council


Microplastics are increasingly being recognized as pervasive in the environment, including the water column, sediments, animal tissue and even drinking water. That pervasiveness has led to product bans for small plastics, such as microbeads used in cosmetic products, to larger plastic items that can degrade into microplastics, such as bags and straws. In addition, there are new and planned requirements to monitor microplastics in the environment and in drinking water.

Implementing monitoring programs requires reliable standardized methods and best practice guidelines. Such methods enable comparison of studies among regions, and the ability to compare quantification among sources. Although people have been quantifying and characterizing microplastics in samples for more than a decade, standard field and laboratory methods, or the reference materials necessary for quality assurance, do not yet exist.

This workshop will bring together microplastics experts from around the world to explore a path toward method standardization. The workshop will be conducted in collaboration with the State of California Water Resources Control Board and the California Ocean Protection Council, which have legislative mandates to develop standardized microplastics monitoring methods for both ocean and drinking waters.

Workshop Objectives

  1. Facilitate a conversation among the management community, stakeholders and microplastics experts to enhances understanding of policy-makers needs regarding microplastics method standardization.
  2. Agree on state of the science regarding sampling, extraction and analysis methods.
  3. Identify the research necessary to reach shared goals, including design of studies necessary to develop standardized methods for microplastics analysis.