Internship | Assessing microplastic release from consumer products

Concern has risen about the ubiquitous presence of microplastics. However, little is known about the actual exposure and effects of these particles. In this internship you will investigate release of microplastic particles from consumer products.



Education type

university (wo)


Internship and graduation project

Hours a week

Fulltime – 40


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What will you be doing?

In recent years concern has risen about the presence of small plastic particles in the environment, the so-called microplastics. However, currently, little is known about the actual exposure and human health effects of these microplastics particles. Particularly on the exposure side, high quality quantitative data are lacking on actual exposure levels for humans. One reason for this is that there are many routes to which humans can be exposed to microplastic particles. Understanding how microplastic particles can be released during different exposure routes is a first step in understanding actual exposure levels for humans.

In this internship you will investigate to which extent microplastic particles are release from consumer products (a choice will be made on: food packaging, textile products or other consumer products suspected of microplastic release) and what this implies for actual human exposure levels. More specifically you will look at the following aspects:
  • Make a literature inventory of currently available information on the release of microplastic from the selected product group.
  • Make an inventory of products in the selected product group, aimed at products that potentially have a high risk of releasing microplastic particles during use and choose products types for further investigation.
  • Collect consumer products for microplastic release simulation experiments.
  • Setup and perform microplastic release simulation experiments with the collected products.
  • Develop sampling protocols for extracting the microplastic particles released during the simulation experiments.
  • Quantitatively assess the microplastic release by analyzing microplastics particles using the following analytical techniques: (1) scanning electron microscopy in combination with X-ray microanalysis (SEM/EDX); (2) infrared microscopy (FTIR) and/or thermal desorption gas chromatography mass spectrometry (TD-GC-MS).
  • Interpret the analysis results and collect the data in a research report and/or a scientific publication.

What do we require of you?

Our ideal candidate is a master student with a (analytical)chemical, material science, environmental or closely related background, with a multidisciplinary and scientific interest.

  • The internship start date will be determined in consultation with the candidate
  • The internship has a minimum duration of 5 months and a maximum duration of 9 months

What can you expect of your work situation?

TNO is an independent research organisation whose expertise and research make an important contribution to the competitiveness of companies and organisations, to the economy and to the quality of society as a whole. Innovation with purpose is what TNO stands for. With 3000 people we develop knowledge not for its own sake but for practical application. To create new products that make life more pleasant and valuable and help companies innovate. To find creative answers to the questions posed by society. We work for a variety of customers: governments, companies, service providers and non-governmental organisations. Working together on new knowledge, better products and clear recommendations for policy and processes. In everything we do, impact is the key. Our product and process innovations and recommendations are only worth something if our customers can use them to boost their competitiveness. 

In the unit of Circular Economy & Environment, applied research is carried out in creating a healthy and sustainable living environment and climate. Within the department of Environmental Modelling, Sensing & Analysis (EMSA) we study complex questions about the presence, mitigation and effects of (potentially) harmful substances. Our well-equipped laboratories are able to determine the precise composition and amounts of substances in the air and in water, soil, blood and (consumer) products.

Click here to read more about EMSA.

What can TNO offer you?

You want to work on the precursor of your career; a work placement gives you an opportunity to take a good look at your prospective future employer. TNO goes a step further. It’s not just looking that interests us; you and your knowledge are essential to our innovation. That’s why we attach a great deal of value to your personal and professional development. You will, of course, be properly supervised during your work placement and be given the scope for you to get the best out of yourself. Naturally, we provide suitable work placement compensation.

Has this vacancy sparked your interest?

Then please feel free to apply on this vacancy! For further questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

Contact: Sieger Henke
Phone number: +31 (0)6-114 32731

Note that applications via email and third party applications are not taken into consideration.


Apply now



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