Nowhere is clean: Study finds plastic in supposedly 'clean' air
A Study made by the French national research institute CNRS showed that microplastic particles roam the air in even the 'cleanest' locations on earth.
According to research released Tuesday, microplastics are found everywhere, from Mount Everest to the Mariana Trench, and even up in the Earth's troposphere, where wind speeds allow them to travel great distances.
Microplastics are microscopic fragments that measure less than 5 mm and have been found on land, in water, and in the air. They come from packaging, clothing, cars, and other sources.
Scientists from the French national research institute CNRS sampled The Pic du Midi Observatory in the French Pyrenees, a so-called "clean station" due to the low influence put on it by the local climate and environment.
Between June and October 2017, they analyzed 10,000 cubic meters of air every week and discovered microplastics in all samples.
They computed the paths of various air masses preceding each sample using weather data and found sources as far away as North Africa and North America.
The particles were able to travel such enormous distances only after reaching such high altitudes, according to the study's lead author Steve Allen of Dalhousie University in Canada.
"Once it hits the troposphere, it's like a superfast highway," Allen said, adding that the marine source is "the most interesting," pointing to microplastic sources in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. "It's just moving around and around in an indefinite cycle."
While the quantities of microplastics in the Pic du Midi samples don't pose a health risk, research co-author Deonie Allen sees the particles are small enough for humans to breathe in. He claims that their presence in a zone that is supposed to be protected and far away from pollution sources should make people think twice.
Allen commented that disposing of plastic abroad by the shipping is a flawed strategy. "It's going to come back to you," he said.