Scientists find plastic dusts on MOUNTAINS and in our oceans
Scientists find plastic dusts on MOUNTAIN tops, as well as alarming levels in our oceans and rivers
- Tiny pieces of polymer, 5mm in size, were found on mountains in the Pyrenees
- Strathclyde University said the plastic litter was being transported by the wind
- Europe produces 60million tons of plastic every year, of which 27.1million are recovered for recycling, incinerated or placed in landfill
No place on Earth can escape plastic dust in the air, researchers have found – with particles even raining down on remote mountain tops.
While it has long been known plastic is polluting our water and the earth, the latest research shows the microplastic dust is also in the air we breathe.
The main type of plastic in the dust found dropping to earth was polystyrene, which is used in packaging but not widely recycled, followed by polyethylene, which is used to make plastic bottles and bags.
Tiny pieces of polymer, less than 5mm in size, were found on mountains in the Pyrenees
The tiny pieces of polymer, less than 5mm in size, were found being deposited in a remote area on the border between France and Spain previously considered ‘pristine’.
Joint lead researcher Steve Allen, of Strathclyde University, said: ‘It’s astounding and worrying that so many particles were found in the Pyrenees field site. It’s being transported there by the wind.
‘It opens up the possibility that it’s not only in the cities are you breathing this in, but it can travel quite some distance from the sources. I don’t think there is an organism on Earth that is immune to this.’
Scientists calculated that the microplastic travelled in the air for around 60 miles and was of a similar quantity to that found in high density urban areas such as Paris.
Europe produces 60million tons of plastic every year, of which 27.1million are recovered for recycling, incinerated or placed in landfill
Europe produces 60million tons of plastic every year, of which 27.1million tons are recovered for recycling, incinerated or placed in landfill.
As the Daily Mail’s Turn The Tide On Plastic campaign has highlighted, around 10 per cent ends up in the oceans – but where the rest goes is not known.
The researchers, whose work is reported in Nature Geoscience, say erosion into dust and being carried into the air may account for some of the shortfall.
The spot where the samples were collected is at the Bernadouze meteorological station, four miles from the nearest village and 75 miles from the nearest city, Toulouse.
The fight to combat the plastic menace is a key element of Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean, backed by the Daily Mail.
Some 536,994 volunteers have signed up for the campaign, which runs until April 23. To sign up, go online to gbspringclean.org.
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