Characterising microplastics in shower wastewater with Raman imaging

Yunlong Luo, Christopher T. Gibson, Youhong Tang, Ravi Naidu, Cheng Fang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Microplastics can potentially be released in our daily activities, such as via our showers, as our clothes are made of plastic fibres, and/or cotton fibres. The challenge is how to characterise these microplastics in shower debris. Herewith we employ Raman imaging to directly visualise the microplastics collected from shower wastewater. Raman can map an image from the scanning array that contains a matrix of thousands of spectra, featuring a considerably higher signal-noise ratio than that from a single spectrum. The increased signal-noise ratio reduces the complexity of sample preparation. Consequently, after the shower debris was sampled and washed, Raman imaging allowed us to distinguish the microplastic fibres from the background including cotton fibres and dirt aggregates. Interestingly, by adjusting the laser power intensity, the scanning process enabled simultaneous in-situ bleaching of the colorants formulated in the textile fibres and collection of signals. The disadvantage of Raman imaging such as the short focusing/working distance is also presented and discussed. Overall, the Raman imaging can extract meaningful information from the complex shower debris samples to enable analysis of microplastics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number152409
Number of pages9
JournalScience of The Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2022


  • Algorithm
  • Colorant
  • Cotton fibre
  • Raman imaging
  • Synthetic fibre


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