Scientists discover Microplastics Carried Long Distances by the Wind
Microplastics have been found in some of the most remote aquatic ecosystems on earth, including in the deepest parts of the ocean. Now, scientists have discovered that these tiny pieces of plastic can also be carried by the wind into secluded terrestrial regions, such as the French Pyrenees not far from the Green Surf School and Surfcamp base in France.
The research, led by scientists at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland and EcoLab, a research center in France, involved measuring the amount of plastic pollution that fell into traps 4,500 feet up a mountain in the Pyrenees over a five-month period. On average, 365 plastic particles fell on a square-meter collector every day — levels comparable to the plastic floating through the air in megacities like Paris or Dongguan, China, despite the fact that are no major cities anywhere near the study site.
The microplastic collected, which scientists estimate traveled at least 60 miles, included fibers from clothing, fragments from plastic bags, plastic film, and packaging material. The findings were published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Deonie Allen, a researcher at EcoLab and the other lead co-author of the new study, told NPR. “They’re a brand new [type of] pollution, but there’s so much of it and it’s increasing so fast that it’s something we really need to start learning about.”
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