Bioanalytical approaches for the detection, characterization, and risk assessment of micro/nanoplastics in agriculture and food systems

Chenxu Yu, Paul Takhistov, Evangelyn Alocilja, Jose Reyes de Corcuera, Margaret W. Frey, Carmen L. Gomes, Yu J. Mao, Eric S. McLamore, Mengshi Lin, Olga V. Tsyusko, Tzuen Rong J. Tzeng, Jeong Yeol Yoon, Anhong Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This review discusses the most recent literature (mostly since 2019) on the presence and impact of microplastics (MPs, particle size of 1 μm to 5 mm) and nanoplastics (NPs, particle size of 1 to 1000 nm) throughout the agricultural and food supply chain, focusing on the methods and technologies for the detection and characterization of these materials at key entry points. Methods for the detection of M/NPs include electron and atomic force microscopy, vibrational spectroscopy (FTIR and Raman), hyperspectral (bright field and dark field) and fluorescence imaging, and pyrolysis–gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. Microfluidic biosensors and risk assessment assays of MP/NP for in vitro, in vivo, and in silico models have also been used. Advantages and limitations of each method or approach in specific application scenarios are discussed to highlight the scientific and technological obstacles to be overcome in future research. Although progress in recent years has increased our understanding of the mechanisms and the extent to which MP/NP affects health and the environment, many challenges remain largely due to the lack of standardized and reliable detection and characterization methods. Most of the methods available today are low-throughput, which limits their practical application to food and agricultural samples. Development of rapid and high-throughput field-deployable methods for onsite screening of MP/NPs is therefore a high priority. Based on the current literature, we conclude that detecting the presence and understanding the impact of MP/NP throughout the agricultural and food supply chain require the development of novel deployable analytical methods and sensors, the combination of high-precision lab analysis with rapid onsite screening, and a data hub(s) that hosts and curates data for future analysis. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4591-4612
Number of pages22
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number16
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the USDA-NIFA multistate project NC-1194.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Agriculture and food systems
  • Detection
  • Microplastics
  • Nanoplastics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry


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