A study suggests that tiny fragments (microplastics) of the synthetic material (wind) are raining down in some of the most remote regions of the world that raises an alarming situation.
Microplastics can reach and affect remote, casually inhabited areas through atmospheric transport. It could mean microplastics really are everywhere, even in the air we breathe.
Buried in the soil of the French Pyrenees mountain range, researchers have turned up an abundance of microplastics, each day picking up an average of 249 fragments, 73 films, and 44 fibres per square metre.
Using atmospheric simulations as well as air mass trajectories, the authors have now traced this pollution to a few small towns nearby.
And while the data cannot exactly prove long-range transport, the findings certainly suggest that microplastics can travel up to 100 kilometres (62 miles) in the atmosphere, maybe even farther.
It’s another discouraging reminder that human pollution knows no boundaries. Yet even though plastic litter is a key environmental challenge for this generation detected in soil, rivers, oceans, and lakes.
“These plastic particles are much bigger than the dust particles we find, although we find these giant dust particles as well,” marine geologist Michèlle van der Does told.
“But their density is much lower, so they’re also more easily transported over great distances.”