Analyse Microplastics in Minutes, Not Hours

Want to bring exceptional speed and throughput to your microplastics research?

Microplastics in the environment are becoming a greater concern as scientists begin to understand their penetration into our ecosystems and food chains. Typically, techniques such as vibrational spectroscopy have been used to chemically identify microplastics. However, this approach is often complex and slow.

What you will learn

The Agilent Laser Direct Infrared (LDIR) chemical imaging system introduces an automated approach to imaging and spectral analysis. Its Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) technology—coupled with rapidly scanning optics—provides fast, high-quality images and spectral data. Using the 8700 LDIR, experts and non-experts alike can:

  • Analyse samples in minutes, not hours.
  • Determine the chemical identity, size, and shape of microplastics in their samples.
  • Obtain useful statistical data to advance their microplastics research.
  • Take rapid, detailed images of large sample areas with intuitive Agilent Clarity software.


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Mitigating Plastic Pollution While Regenerating Our Oceans

It is estimated that more than 75% of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic produced over the last 65 years have turned into waste, of which up to 13 million metric tons end up in our oceans every year.

Plastic is one of the most enduring materials created by humans. Unfortunately, it can take hundreds of years to degrade, and even then, it often becomes microplastics – tiny particles that can be ingested by marine animals. These microplastics enter the food chain, leading to disastrous consequences for our planet and its inhabitants.

Improving plastic waste management globally is critical and individuals and organisations can play a part in reducing plastic pollution and regenerating oceans. Researchers are exploring biodegradable plastics and alternative materials to reduce plastic’s impact and there are many alternative solutions available to reduce single-use plastics.


What labs are doing to reduce plastic pollution

Labs can be influential advocates and encourage industry-wide shifts toward more sustainable practices. Of course, labs are key players in the research of plastic pollution, analyzing to help organisations develop a better understanding of the scope of plastic waste worldwide and use those insights to create innovative solutions, especially for marine environments.

But there’s also no denying that labs consume vast amounts of single-use plastic items, including pipette tips, tubes, gloves, and reagent bottles. These plastics are essential for maintaining sterile conditions and avoiding contamination, but their disposal contributes significantly to plastic waste. Lab instruments are also made up of plastic parts and do most of us know the process for disposing of those instruments at the end of their life?

What’s exciting to see is the scientific community strongly advocating for change and implementing practices that already have a significant impact such as:

  • Reviewing the materials used in common consumables and opting for products with minimal plastic content or those made from recyclable materials.
  • Incorporating re-using along with recycling and engaging with suppliers to support re-useable product options and recycling programs
  • Designing experiments and workflows with circular economy principles in mind.
  • Setting targets for reducing plastic waste.


An example of plastic sustainable solutions

With a focus on forming a biotech company to tackle plastic pollution, ULUU was started in 2020 by Dr Julia Reisser and Michael Kingsbury. They are trying to solve the growing issue of plastic pollution by prototyping alternative materials to market.

ULUU’s PHA product sample


“Unlike synthetic plastics, our materials are not produced using petrochemicals derived from fossil fuels. Instead, they are made from sustainable feedstocks with much more sustainable production processes. And, in the end, our products are compostable and marine-biodegradable, so they don’t pose a lasting impact on the environment,” described Dr. Luke Richards, lead scientist at ULUU.

The mission at ULUU is to replace plastics with materials that are good for the world. They’re producing a versatile natural polymer called polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), using seaweed as a sustainable resource for that process. The result is a material that is biodegradable and won’t accumulate in oceans and landfills or linger as microplastics in biological systems.

Discover the Challenges in Microplastics Analysis in our webinar >

ULUU scientists Dr Sheik Md Moniruzzaman and Vatsal Meshram in their QC lab using the Agilent 1260 Infinity II LC with Agilent InfinityLab LC/MSD iQ


In terms of climate change, using seaweed as a feedstock, ULUU captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converts it into PHA. Their process also doesn’t rely on conventional land-based farming, which can take land away from natural ecosystems. Additionally, farming seaweed has some positive impacts on oceans. Research indicates that seaweed helps clean up environmental pollutants and reverses acidification and eutrophication.

ULUU uses bioreactors ranging from 1 to 50 L to make their products. They also use specialised equipment to investigate injection moulding and turn their PHA product into solid objects for prototyping. The entire production process from seaweed input to the finished PHA powder is monitored by their QC lab, in which most assays use chromatography instruments. These instruments include two Agilent 1260 Infinity II liquid chromatographs (LCs) and one Agilent 8890 gas chromatograph (GC), with detection by an Agilent InfinityLab LC/MSD iQ, an Agilent 1260 Infinity II refractive index detector (RID), and an Agilent 5977B GC/MSD.

Agilent 8890
Agilent LC/MSD iQ
Agilent 1260 Infinity II
Agilent 5977B GC-MSD


Sustainability is the way of the future for all laboratories and investing in the right solutions now can turn the tide for the future. Chemetrix is the partner labs that need to reach its sustainability goals and implement solutions that will reduce its environmental impact and plastic waste now and in years to come.


Microplastics in the Environment Virtual Symposium

Agilent’s expertise provides a range of analytical solutions to both identify and quantify microplastics in the environment.

In our Microplastics Symposium, hear from industry experts and peers working within the field of Microplastics.

With a mixture of live talks across various topic areas and product demonstrations, this event is a great opportunity to uncover more about microplastics analysis in the lab. We will also have our experts available to chat live on the day, allowing you to further increase your knowledge and skills on this topical issue.


What topic areas can you expect to see on the day?

  • Microplastics Analysis with the 8700 LDIR with a focus on the marine environment;
  • Quantification of Microplastics with GC/MSD;
  • Current activities in the world of standardization;
  • Microplastics Analysis with the GC/Q-TOF;
  • And more.




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Water Analysis | Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

(PFAS) are persistent, bioaccumulative, and a health concern, calls for more regulatory guidance and stringent requirements have increased. As a market leader in environmental analysis for over 40 years, Agilent offers complete start-to-finish workflows for extraction, screening, quantification, and reporting of PFAS in water and environmental samples.



PFAS Analysis in the Environment: Agilent solutions to improve productivity & robustness


Reduce PFAS Background with the Agilent PFC-Free* HPLC Conversion Kit Link:

Technical Overview

Water Analysis | Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs), Hormones & Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) include many different and diverse classes of chemicals including dioxins, furans, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diethyl ethers (PBDEs), polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), endrin, DDT and others. Research shows that POPs are extremely toxic to humans and wildlife even at very low concentrations. Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) & hormones enter our water supplies through human excretion, domestic and industrial disposal into wastewater treatment plants, agricultural runoff and animal feed lot operations. One of the negatives effects that active hormones found on excrement can have on both humans and wildlife is endocrine disruption, which may occur at extremely low ng/L levels. PPCPs are quite resilient and are difficult to remove through conventional water treatment processes, resulting in persistence in the environment and potential accumulation over time. Agilent offers complete solutions including online and offline solid phase extraction techniques, and LC-MS and GC-MS systems to analyze PPCPs, hormones and POPs at required sensitivity and accuracy levels in the environment.



Tetra- Through Octa-Chlorinated Dioxins and Furans Analysis in Water by Isotope Dilution GC/MS/MS

Application Note

Automated Online SPE-UHPLC/MS/MS Analysis of Emerging Pollutants in Water

Application Note

Mass Spectrometry Analysis of Hormones in Water by Direct Injection

Application Note

Water Analysis | Microplastics in Water

Contamination in our waterways, soil, air, and drinking water from microplastics is gaining significant public interest due largely to its emergence as an environmental threat.

Researchers are now working towards standardized analytical solutions to best characterize
these small particles in terms of chemical identity, size, shape, and total mass.



Using the Agilent 8700 Laser Direct Infrared Imaging system for fast and automated analysis of microplastics in environmental samples


Water Analysis | Metals and Trace Metals Analysis

Ensuring the quality of drinking water is a primary goal for public health around the world. Most countries have enacted regulations and monitoring programs to ensure that the supply of drinking water is free from potentially harmful chemicals. The regulations typically include maximum allowable concentrations for a range of inorganic components. Trace metals are routinely monitored in both the treated water supplied to households, and the source water used for drinking water abstraction (from rivers, reservoirs, lakes, underground aquifers; and, in some regions, seawater used for desalination).



The Fastest and Smartest Way to Analyze Water Samples by ICP-OES

Application Brief

Measuring Cadmium in Water Title: Trace Metals in Water & Waste Samples

Application Brief

Using an Agilent 7850 or 7900 ICP-MS

Selection Guide

Water Analysis | Pesticides

Pesticides & Herbicides compounds used to control weeds, mold, bacteria, insects, and rodents are widely used throughout the world. Due to their widespread use, agricultural chemicals find their way into the food chain, water supply, and soil resulting in potentially dangerous exposure levels to humans. While not fully understood, exposure to pesticides may interfere with neurological development and disrupt a person’s endocrine system. For a complete characterization and sensitive quantification of pesticides in the environment, both an LC-MS and GC-MS system are required. Agilent’s complete workflow solutions for pesticides analysis include sample preparation products, chromatography, mass spectrometry, data reporting and expert application services, provide everything needed to tackle challenges associated with pesticide analysis in the environment.



Measurement of Underivatized Glyphosate and Other Polar Pesticides in Surface and Drinking Water

Application Note

Analysis of Drinking Water with the Agilent 8860 GC and 7697A Headspace Sampler

Application Note

Analysis of Parathion-Ethyl in Water with 85 μm Polyacrylate SPME Fibers

Application Note

Water Analysis | Disinfection Byproducts

Disinfection byproducts (DBPs) are formed when organic matter in water reacts with disinfectants used to kill microbes at water treatment plants. DBPs consist of a large variety of mainly halogenated compounds that have been shown to have adverse health effects on humans. Reseach shows that that they may be carcinogenic and may cause both developmental and reproductive issues in humans and wildlife. Common DBP classes are trihalomethanes (THMs), haloacetic acids (HAAs) and Nitrosamines, a class of DBPs that have been shown to be carcinogenic at extremely low ng/L levels. Agilent triple quadrupole LC- & GC-MS systems are the ideal instruments for low-level detection (sub-parts per trillion) of emerging & unregulated DBPS in drinking water.

To identify new disinfection byproducts, the Agilent Q/TOF instruments are ideal partners, offering high-resolution accurate mass analysis with simple yet powerful software tools.



Nitrosamines Analysis in Drinking Water Using GC/MS/MS—Meeting Equivalence to EPA Method 521

Application Note

Finding NDMA Precursors Using Accurate Mass Tools with an Agilent 6540 Q-TOF LC/MS

Application Note

Determination of Haloacetic Acids in Water by GC/μECD Using Agilent J&W DB-35ms Ultra Inert and DB-XLB Columns

Application Note

Water Analysis | Volatile and Semi Volatile Organics

Large groups of Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) & Semi-Volatile organic compounds (sVOCs) have been found to be harmful to the environment as well as toxic to humans and are monitored in both drinking water and wastewater supplies by environmental regulators. Due to their diversity and widespread use, VOCs & sVOCs can occur from a variety of products such as paints and hydraulic fluids to dry-cleaning products and refridgerants as well as petroleum based products and gasoline. VOCs comprise a large and disparate list of compounds that include more common compounds such as aldehydes, ketones, halogenated compounds as well as several other potentially harmful compounds.sVOCs comprises of a broad number of priority pollutants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), nitro-aromatics . Many are considered potentially carcinogenic, mutagenic, and disruptive to human health.

Accurate, reliable and efficient trace-level analyses of VOCs & sVOCs are required. Regulatory agencies set the threshold limits based on threat, toxicity, and target matrix. While contaminants are often analyzed via GC or GC/MS, it can be difficult to guard against potentially costly and dangerous false positives. To meet this challenge, Agilent developed the Inert Flow Path for GC analysis.

Agilent’s 7697A Headspace Sampler, when coupled with the market leading 8890 GC and 5977B Mass Spectrometer, delivers accurate and reliable analysis of VOCs & sVOCs in water. Purge & Trap techniques, that are supported by Agilent, is another way to analyze regulated VOCs in water using GC-MS.



Determination of Benzene and its Derivatives in Water with the Agilent 8697 Headspace Sampler and 8890 GC

Application Note

Improved volatiles analysis using static headspace, the 5977B GC/MSD and a high-efficiency source

Application Note

US EPA Method 8260 with the Tekmar Atomx XYZ P&T and the Agilent 7890B GC/5977A MS

Application Note

Analysis of Analysis of Semivolatile Organic Compounds in Drinking Water on the Agilent Intuvo and 5977 With Extended Calibration Range

Application Brief

Aromatic Hydrocarbons Analysis in Environmental Samples