Microplastics ‘Spiral Around the Globe’ Through Air and Wind

A report published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows how microplastics are blown through the air around the globe, with unknown repercussions on human health, ecosystems, and biodiversity.

Between 2017 and 2019, the researchers collected atmospheric data from the western United States and found that around 220,000 metric tons of microplastic particles were deposited across the U.S. every year. The particles can stay suspended in the air for up to a week and can cross continents and oceans by the wind.

In the western U.S., the majority of microplastics enter the air from tires on the road or by being thrown back into the atmosphere from plastic in the ocean. Researchers note that this plastic isn’t necessarily new and comes from decades of plastic production and usage.

Microplastics in the ocean are thought to have a negative impact on marine life and have been found throughout the food web.

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