Microplastics Are Blowing in the Wind

Microplastics Are Blowing in the Wind
Fonte: Scientific American
Atmospheric currents are transporting plastic pollution into remote, pristine areas, showing the global nature of the problem

Amid the rugged peaks of the Vicdessos region of the French Pyrenees, the only visible signs of a human presence are a smattering of villages and the odd hiker or skier; it is considered a pristine environment. But even here, scientists have detected tiny pieces of plastic falling out of the air like artificial dust.

A first-of-its-kind study finds these particles have blown in on the wind from at least 100 kilometers away and likely much farther. This is a clear indication that atmospheric transport is yet another way plastic pollution is being distributed around the planet, even to remote areas. “And it suggests that this is a far bigger problem than we have currently thought about,” says study co-author Deonie Allen, of the École Nationale Supérieure Agronomique de Toulouse (ENSAT).

The study, published Monday in Nature Geoscience, is one of only a handful that have attempted to measure how much plastic is falling from the atmosphere. It marks the first wave in what is likely to be a flood of such studies in the coming years, in an effort to fill in the picture of how microplastics move around the environment and how humans might be exposed to them.

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