Plastic pollution is more serious than we thought: microplastics are widespread in places where people are rarely seen.
the Pyrenees is the largest mountain range in southwest Europe and the boundary mountain between France and Spain. It starts from the bay of Biscay in the Atlantic Ocean in the West and ends on the Mediterranean coast in the East, with a length of about 435 kilometers, and the sea level is mostly more than 2000 meters
more and more evidence shows that plastic pollution is more serious than we thought: it not only exists in drinking water, quietly enters our food chain, but also can be seen everywhere in the most primitive natural environment on earth
you may have heard that microplastics have entered our soil, oceans, drinking water and even human feces. Now, scientists have found that these tiny plastic fragments can even float in the air and fall to the most desolate corner of the earth with the help of wind, rain and snow
a recent study published in Nature Geoscience shows that in the French Pyrenees mountains, which have been considered to still preserve the primitive ecological environment, scientists have found tiny plastic fragments falling from the air like artificial dust. These microplastics can be carried by the wind and effectively cross the atmosphere to the most remote areas on earth, such as the Pyrenees. Scientists believe that this is only the beginning. Particles like this hitchhiker may travel thousands of miles, and the threat they pose is also twofold: atmospheric transportation enables microplastics to be transferred from pollution sources that have not yet been industrialized to other clean environments. The long-distance travel of microplastics will include (4) other pollutants wherever they go, and animals, including humans, will breathe these gases
microplastics floating with the wind
microplastics are plastic particles with a particle size of less than 5 mm, which are composed of a variety of complex polymers and added chemicals. Microplastics were first discovered in the ocean, but scientists gradually realized that they also exist in freshwater systems, soil and the atmosphere
in the latest study published in Nature Geoscience on April 15, 2019, researchers installed two types of atmospheric deposition collectors at the bernaduz meteorological station in the Pyrenees to study the air conditions in the Pyrenees. From November 2017 to March 2018, scientists will take samples about once a month and then analyze the collected particles. It was found that there were a large number of micro plastics in the air of this region. The research estimated that 249 pieces of debris, 73 layers of film and 44 fibers per square meter per day were deposited in this region, which actively supported the central and western regions and northeast regions to undertake international and Eastern foreign-funded Industrial transfer. Using a technique called air mass trajectory analysis, they calculated that the transport distance of these plastic particles was 59 miles (95 kilometers). Researchers speculate that the micro plastic rain in the Pyrenees mountains may be carried by the wind from big cities such as Barcelona
only two previous studies have focused on the existence of microplastics in the air, one in Paris, France, and the other in Dongguan, China. The size and type of microplastics found in the Pyrenees are different from those measured in previous studies of atmospheric deposition microplastics in Paris or Dongguan. The main particles deposited in the air of Paris and Dongguan are slender fibers over 100 microns, which are composed of polypropylene or polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which usually come from clothing or other textiles. However, in the Pyrenees, most plastic fragments are less than 25 microns, mainly composed of polystyrene and polyethylene fragments, which are common in many packaging materials. According to the research results, polystyrene is particularly easy to be degraded by weathering or ultraviolet rays from the sun, making the worn debris easier to be blown away by the wind
with this discovery, researchers have revealed a new horror of plastic pollution. Scientists have known that microplastics can be suspended in the air of big cities such as Paris and Dongguan, China, but no one has shown how far these things can go. At present, it is not clear how different types of plastics - from polystyrene to polyethylene to polypropylene - spread in the atmosphere according to their material properties. On the other hand, considering the unique nature of plastic decomposition. With the decomposition of microplastics, their properties will change theoretically. For example, one fiber may split into two fibers, resulting in new components with new aerodynamic characteristics. People also know little about the shape of microplastics. Whether it is film, fiber or fragment, how the shape of microplastics affects its movement is not very clear. Therefore, scientists want to use 3D models to simulate how far microplastics can spread in the air
scientists involved in this study plan to expand the scope of research and collect more detailed samples from other remote areas more frequently. "This is not only local pollution, but also what happens in cities," said Steve Allen, an atmospheric and environmental scientist and co-author of the study. "Invisible pollution is spreading all over the world."
visitors from remote areas
the microplastics found in the Pyrenees is not an example. In many areas where human beings have not yet set foot, micro plastics have quietly arrived and become the main local "residents"
microplastics once appeared in the Arctic, where plastic particles were transported by the process of sea ice freezing and melting. Recently, micro plastics have also been found in the Verny glacier in Switzerland (f tensile testing machine mainly adopts the servo control software orni glacier), which confirms the extensive pollution of plastics to natural resources. The study speculates that 40% of the micro plastics in the glacier may be blown from nearby settlements and towns; Another 40% may come from outdoor clothing designed to adapt to harsh weather. Most outdoor clothes for hikers in this area are designed for low temperature and high altitude areas. The materials of clothes are a mixture of synthetic fibers and natural fibers. Researchers found 75 particles in Glacier sediment samples, and based on this, they speculated that there might be 162million plastic particles in the whole Funi glacier. The study was carried out by Dr. Roberto Sergio azzoni of the University of Milan and his team. The results of the study were recently presented at the European geoscience Union conference in Vienna, Austria
not only that, micro plastics are also found in the deepest part of the earth that human beings can reach. The Mariana Trench is considered to be the closest sea area to the mantle that humans can reach. The deepest point is 11034 meters below sea level. Many evaluation reports have pointed out that plastic has reached this area. In February 2019, researchers from the school of natural and Environmental Sciences of the University of Newcastle wrote on the Royal Society open science, After capturing and analyzing marine animal samples in the Mariana Trench and five other trenches with a depth of more than 6000 meters (Peru Chile trench in the Southeast Pacific, New Hebrides trench and comadek trench in the southwest Pacific, Japan Trench and Izu Ogasawara trench in the Northwest Pacific), they found that in these six trenches, amphipods were found to ingest plastic particles, and the closer they were to the seabed for food, The more plastic particles you ingest. In 2017, after analyzing the marine organisms brought back by China's manned submersible Jiaolong from the depths of the ocean, it was also found that microplastics were detected in marine organisms living under a water depth of 4500 meters
microplastics are more far-reaching than human footprints. They have arrived in areas that have not been widely touched by human beings in different ways
plastic petri dishes
the ubiquitous micro plastic pollution is not only an environmental problem, but also easy to absorb toxic chemicals (such as pesticides and heavy metals) and may carry harmful bacteria in the process of transmission. In a study, researchers at the National University of Singapore found that more than 400 kinds of bacteria were found on 275 pieces of microplastics collected from local beaches, including those causing human gastroenteritis and wound infection, as well as those related to coral reef bleaching. Scientists began to worry about the potential health effects of microplastics
when microplastics enter the organism, people need to worry about more than the plastic itself. Previous studies have shown that mussels will be damaged by these toxins when eating microplastics, and the toxins filtered from microplastics will cause mussel larvae to grow in an abnormal way. A study in 2018 proposed another way for plastics to harm marine organisms: micro plastic pollution destroys the relationship between predators and prey, which may destroy the entire food chain. This study was published in Biology Letters in November 2018. The research object is the common corn snail, which feeds on algae and crabs are its predators. The central position of corn snail in the food chain makes it a key species on the beach and widely eaten by people. When crabs approach corn snails, chemical signals usually cause shellfish to take evasive actions, such as hiding in their shells or under rocks. However, in the laboratory, when these whelks were placed in water with microplastics (the concentration of microplastics used in the experiment was similar to that on the beach), they did not react. As we all know, microplastics can absorb heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants, so the researchers of this study believe that the release of this chemical mixture will interfere with the senses of corn snails. However, it is still unknown what kind of harm will be caused to human health after eating corn snail contaminated by micro plastic. However, in ecosystems such as coral reefs, plastic has been proved to be a vector of disease. A piece of plastic is like a small Petri dish, which can hold all kinds of bacteria, including pathogens. When they move along coral reefs, they will come into contact with one kind of coral and another, and spread diseases
at present, the world produces about 370 million tons of plastic every year, equivalent to the weight of 2.5 million blue whales. More than 90% of the products produced by human beings are not recycled. For decades, scientists have been recording plastic pollution, but more and more evidence shows that plastic pollution is more serious than we thought: it not only exists in our water, quietly enters our food chain, but also floats in the wind in our most primitive natural environment. Filling the earth with plastic is a huge gamble. It can be predicted that if we do not intervene and allow the situation to continue, mankind will undoubtedly lose in this game