Identifying Plastic Microfibers in the Marine Environment Using Hyperspectral Imaging

Authors: Darimar Dávila-Ortiz*, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus, Maureen Clayton, Department of Biology, University of Northern Iowa.
Topics: Environmental Science, Remote Sensing, Marine and Coastal Resources
Keywords: microfibers, hyperspectral imaging, marine debris, microplastics
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Concern has been raised about contamination of aquatic environments from plastic particles smaller than 5mm long that are known as microplastics. Because microplastics are so small, marine organisms such as filter and deposit feeders are more likely to ingest them, which could affect marine organisms negatively causing starvation or transference of chemicals by bioaccumulation. One type of microplastics is plastic microfibers, usually made of polyethylene terephthalate (commonly known as polyester) which is found in fleece clothing and blankets. Studies have demonstrated that synthetic clothes release microfibers in the environment when washed. The purpose of this study was to create a spectral library of microfibers that can be used to identify plastic microfibers in marine environments with remote sensing. Samples of microfibers were collected by washing fleece blankets, and reflectance was then measured using the Analytical Spectral Device (ASD) FieldSpec spectroradiometer (spectral range from 350-2500nm) and the Headwall Hyperspectral Camera (spectral range from 400-1000nm) to collect spectral signatures. Absorption peaks for polyethylene terephthalate were found between the wavelengths of 1600-1700nm and around 950nm. Future analysis will include the determination of the concentration of microfibers required for detection by a variety of remote sensing instruments and the study of how the presence of salt water affects the spectral signature for microfibers.

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