Microplastics are taking over Earth. They can be found in all corners of the globe, from mountain tops to the depths of the sea. A new study has found out what these microscopic fragments are present in at least 11 protected areas in the western United States. It is not good news.
The researchers concluded that the atmosphere delivers every year over 1,000 tons of microplastic in these areas. The same amount of about 200 million bottles of water. No particles found were larger than 3 millimetres; about 70% of the latter were small enough to allow winds to blow them all over the world.
This study found that atmospheric processes can deposit microplastics in the Arctic or on top of the mountains. “This is a really important and well-done study“, reports to Earther Susanne Brander, an Oregon State University ecotoxicologist (not involved in research).”It is not surprising that microplastics are found in rain and air in isolated pristine areas and national parks in the United States.”
These particles came from different plastic sources. Most came from clothing: cotton, polyester, nylon and even polyolefin, the material used in home and vehicle carpeting. Some of these fibres may come from people who hike or camp in national parks. The impact of microplastic is still unknown in mountain areas and more generally on land surfaces.
The complete picture of the situation, however, seems to be even more worrying.