Measuring campaign INTERACT-TNA "NanoEU": On the hunt for nanoplastics

Since 2017, Dušan Materić has been searching for the smallest plastic particles at the Sonnblick Observatory (SBO) in the micro and now also in the nano range. It all started with an INTERACT-3 Transnational Access Program and the analysis of snow. Since then, Dušan Materić has been a regular user at the SBO, using various methods to detect for the first time plastic in the snow and the atmosphere at Mt. Hoher Sonnblick - with great success. Thanks to his studies and analyses, it is clear that plastic pollution is a major problem in the high alpine areas, so not just in our oceans. Accordingly, the European Commission considers plastic pollution to be “an urgent and global problem”. Dušan Materić is trying to help solve this problem.
On April 3, 2024, he launched his latest measurement campaign “NanoEU”, which once again received funding from INTERACT-3. Given the current lack of knowledge, the main objective of this project is to systematically take air samples for subsequent analysis of nanoplastics in terms of their concentration, polymer type and size distribution with a resolution of one week. The sampling of micro- and nanoplastics is carried out with a cascade impactor. The filters are changed weekly and then analyzed further in the laboratory. The SBO team and its technicians provide on-site support here. Special care is required, as gloves and clothing must be free of plastic so that the samples are not contaminated. The measurement campaign is planned until the end of October 2024, but could develop into a permanent monitoring focus in the long term.

Figure-1: Dušan Materić uses the clean room at the Sonnblick Observatory and prepares filters for the cascade impactor. The campaign is supported by INTERACT.

The research is receiving funding from INTERACT III under the European Union H2020 Grant Agreement No.87112

If you want to find out more about the occurrence of plastic, you will find it in the scientific publications:

  • Dušan Materić, Anne Kasper-Giebl, Daniela Kau, Marnick Anten, Marion Greilinger, Elke Ludewig, Erik van Sebille, Thomas Röckmann, and Rupert Holzinger (2020). Micro- and Nanoplastics in Alpine Snow: A New Method for Chemical Identification and (Semi)Quantification in the Nanogram Range. Environmental Science & Technology 2020 54 (4), 2353-2359. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b07540
  • Materić, D., Ludewig, E., Brunner, D., Röckmann, T., and Holzinger, R. (2021). Nanoplastics transport to the remote, high-altitude Alps. Environ. Pollut., 117697. 10.1016/j.envpol.2021.117697.
  • Kirchsteiger, B., Materić, D., Happenhofer, F., Holzinger, R., and Kasper-Giebl, A. (2023). Fine micro- and nanoplastics particles (PM2.5) in urban air and their relation to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Atmos. Environ. 301, 119670. 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2023.119670.