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Little microplastics travel far in the wind

Plastic pollution from Paris does not necessarily remain in Paris.

Small pieces of plastic that originated from the cities were transported by the wind to a distant mountain site at least 95 kilometers away, finds a study. It is the first demonstration that microplastics, small particles ranging from a few nanometers to 5 millimeters in size, can travel far through the atmosphere.

Even more startling is how much microplastic fell from the sky in such a remote place, the researchers say. The study's studies suggest that the rainfall of some microplastics in some remote locations may be abolished in some large cities.

"We found them somewhere, they should not be," said atmospheric researcher Deonie Allen of EcoLab in Castanet-Tolosan, France, who coordinated the study.

The researchers set up two types of atmospheric deposition collectors at the Bernadouze meteorological station, in the Pyrenees, between France and Spain. The researchers visited the site about once a month from November 201

7 to March 2018 to retrieve the samples and then analyzed the collected particles to separate, identify and count plastic pieces.

An estimated 365 microplastic particles per square meter per day averaged on site, the team reports on April 15 in Nature Geoscience . It is a rate "similar to what happens in Paris," Allen says

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But the size and relative composition of the plastic was different from what has been measured in previous studies of atmospheric deposition of microplasty in Paris or Dongguan, China. The predominant particles deposited in these cities were slender fibers. which is larger than about 100 microns and consists of polypropylene or polyethylene terephthalate, known as PET. Such fibers often originate from clothing or other textiles. However, at the Pyrenees site, most plastic pieces were less than 25 microns and consisted mostly of polystyrene and polystyrene fragments, common in many packaging materials.

Polystyrene is particularly susceptible to degradation by confusion or by ultraviolet rays from the sun, making worn pieces easier to transport by wind, the researchers say.In the Pyrenees site, periods of higher wind speed and short outbreaks of Intensive rain or snow seems to be linked to higher landfills

Although the study failed to identify the source of the plastic, a simulation of wind speeds and directions during study time suggested that the plastic traveled at least 95 kilometers to reach the site. But it is likely that the plastic came from farther away, Allen says, because no densely populated industrialized cities fall within that region.

"Unfortunately [the study]the ubiquitous contamination of our environment confirms with microplasty," says Johnny Gaspéri, environmental scientist at the Université Paris-Est Créteil.

The team plans to expand the research, collect more detailed samples more often and from other remote locations. "It's not just local pollution, or something that just happens in cities," says study consultant Steve Allen, also an atmospheric and environmental researcher at EcoLab. "Invisible pollution moves around the world".

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