Efficient Prediction of Microplastic Counts from Mass Measurements

Shuyao Tan, Joshua A. Taylor, Elodie Passeport

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Microplastics must be characterized and quantified to assess their impact. This is complicated by the time-consuming and error-prone nature of current quantification procedures. This study evaluates the use of machine learning to estimate the number of microplastic particles on the basis of aggregate particle weight measurements. Synthetic data sets are used to test the performance of linear regression, kernel ridge regression, and decision trees. Kernel ridge regression, which achieves the best performance, is tested on several experimental datasets. The numerical results show that the algorithm is better at predicting the counts of larger and more homogeneous samples and that contamination by organics does not significantly increase error. In mixed samples, prediction error is lower for heavier particles, with an error rate comparable to or better than that of traditional manual counting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-308
Number of pages10
JournalACS ES and T Water
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 11 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


  • kernel ridge regression
  • machine learning
  • microplastics
  • prediction


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