The quality of the monomers lactic acid and lactide as well as the chemical changes induced during polymerization and processing are crucial parameters for controlling the properties of the resulting poly(lactic acid) (PLA) products. This review presents the most important analysis and characterization methods for quality assessment of PLA and its precursors. The impurities typically present in lactic acid or lactide monomers and their possible origins and effects on resulting PLA products are discussed. The significance of the analyses for the different polymer production stages is considered, and special applications of the methods for studying features specific for PLA-based materials are highlighted.
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