Analysis of seaweed as a vector for microplastics is an integral part of understanding the formation and deposition of micro-sized plastic waste in seawater. The project itself originated due to the influx of seaweed (and mismanaged plastic waste) residing on the shores of St. Kitts and Nevis and the constant deposition of plastic pollution intertwined within the seaweed. The natural occurrence of the two together lead to the consideration of fragmented plastics remaining on the seaweed. The objective of this research is to stain, identify, and quantify the concentration of microplastics sourced from both store-bought and environmental seaweed samples. A Nile red solution dissolved in either acetone or methanol was used to stain the microplastics, as per a proven method. The fluorescence of the stained microplastics was measured (excitation: 523-543 nm and emission: 580-640 nm) to identify potential dissolution. The seaweed was washed of microplastics and the solid particles collected were evaluated using infrared (IR) spectroscopy. The fluorescence and infrared spectrum results were compared to spectra within the Spectral data base system (SDBS) for the most common plastics: polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polypropylene (PP), polycarbonate (PC). The use of a fluorescence microscope allowed for direct quantification of microplastics over a specific area of the sample and therefore allowed for further identification of microplastic presence.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Rodriguez, Stephanie M., "Seaweed as a Carrier for Microplastics" (2020). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 753.