Microplastic research is an emerging field. Consistent accurate identification of microplastic polymer composition is vital for understanding the effect of microplastic pollution in the environment. Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy is becoming commonplace for identifying microplastics. Conventional spectral identification is based on library searching, a process that utilizes a search algorithm against digital databases containing single spectra of pristine reference plastics. Several conditions on environmental microplastic particles such as weathering, additives, and residues cause spectral alterations relative to pristine reference library spectra. Thus, library searching is vulnerable to misidentification of microplastic samples. While a classification process (classifier) based on a collection of spectra can alleviate misidentification problems, optimization of each classifier (tuning parameter) is required. Additionally, erratic results relative to the particular optimized tuning parameter can occur when microplastic samples originate from new environmental or biological conditions than those defining the class. Presented in this study is a process that utilizes spectroscopic measurements in a hybrid fusion algorithm that depending on the user preference, simultaneously combines high-level fusion with low- and mid-level fusion based on an ensemble of non-optimized classifiers to assign microplastic samples into specific plastic categories (classes). The approach is demonstrated with 17 classifiers using FT-IR for binary classification of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) microplastic samples from environmental sources. Other microplastic types are evaluated for non-class PET and HDPE membership. Results show that high accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity are obtained thereby reducing the risk of misidentifying microplastics.
© 2020 The Author(s)PDF Article