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© CNRS Images, 2018
Plastic waste that accumulates in the ocean slowly deteriorates into smaller pieces. Scientists now estimate the amount of microplastics under the sea at 5000 billion tons, but the amount of nanoplastics remains unknown. That is why a French team decided to collect samples from the Mediterranean Sea to detect traces of nanoplastics. First, they concentrated the water by ultrafiltration and then used a dynamic light scattering technique to identify the nanoparticles. The final step was to resort to mass spectrometry to separate the natural nanoparticles from the nanoplastics. This issue is significant for the environment since nanoparticles now play a role in the food chain.