Carbon by ICP-MS? Detecting Microplastics by Single Particle ICP-MS


Plastic is a global problem due to its ubiquity and persistence in the environment. It is estimated that approximately 10% of all plastic produced ends up as fragments of different sizes in aquatic systems. Single particle inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (SP-ICP-MS) has become a well-established technique for the detection, size characterization and quantification of inorganic nanoparticles, whereas the analysis of carbon-containing particles by ICP-MS has been hampered by the intrinsic low sensitivity and the high background levels in the determination of carbon.

In this webinar, the analysis of microplastic suspensions by ICP-MS operated in single particle mode using microsecond dwell times is comprehensively discussed. Under the adequate conditions, the detection of plastic microparticles, their quantification using aqueous dissolved carbon standards, and the measurement of the size-distribution of the detected particles is feasible in a variety of samples, from waters to foods and cosmetics.


  • Application of single particle ICP-MS to the analysis of plastic microparticles.
  • Sample introduction and instrumental parameters for microplastic analysis.
  • Size and number concentration calibration issues.
  • Scope and applications as rapid screening tool.

Presented by: Francisco Laborda, Ph.D., University of Zaragoza (Spain)