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Scientists have again discovered that microplastic is invading a hyper-remote location. This time it’s thousands of meters above sea level.
The Pic du Midi observatory is located in the French Pyrenees at an altitude of 2,877m, making it a remote location that would presumably be free of pollution. “Pic du Midi is defined as a clean station due to its limited influence by local climatic conditions or the environment,” the researchers say in their to learn, this in . has been published Nature communication.
A pump at the observatory collected 10,000 m³ of air every week and a subsequent analysis showed a microplastic concentration of about one particle per 4 m². The particles were originally part of plastic packaging and wind data showed that they could possibly have come from “locations all over North Africa, Spain, Portugal, France, Great Britain / Ireland and as far as the USA / Canada, as well as the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. ”
A fine dust pump on the Pic du Midi. (Jeroen Sonke)
The study notes that microplastic pollution poses a new threat because of the global atmospheric circulation patterns that transport these particles over long distances.
Other research has also documented the extended travel microplastics can make. one To analyse of London, England, reported that microplastics can move up to 8,700 m² from this city.
Precipitation is another way these tiny particles contaminate delicate ecosystems with no human activity. A 2020 to learn reported that 1,000 tons of microplastics, equivalent to over 123 million plastic water bottles, migrate through the atmosphere each year and end up in protected areas in the western United States as a result of rainfall.
Scientists say there is still a lot to learn about how plastics break down in ecosystems and the effects this has on planets, animals and human health. In September 2021, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) published one report which says that humans have produced 10 billion tons of plastic, of which six billion are currently in landfills or scattered around the planet as pollution.
Thumbnail-Credit: Jeroen Sonke