(ORDO NEWS) — The microplastics found mostly came from packaging, the researchers said, and while it does not pose a direct threat to human health, its presence at this altitude is surprising.
A team of researchers found that these plastic particles permeate the air surrounding the Pic du Midi at an altitude of 2,877 meters in the French Pyrenees. The research results are published in the journal Nature Communications.
Scientists from CNRS, the University of the Grenoble Alps and the University of Strathclyde in Scotland analyzed the composition of 10,000 cubic meters of air weekly. The air came from a pump installed at the Pic du Midi observatory. The researchers found a concentration of microplastics: 1 particle in 4 cubic meters of air.
“Mathematical models for the movement of air masses used by scientists indicate that the particles originated in Africa, North America or the Atlantic Ocean, indicating intercontinental atmospheric transport of microplastics,” the researchers said in a statement.
Scientists believe that this also explains the presence of microplastics at the poles of the planet, on Mount Everest or in other distant regions of our planet.
The researchers said microplastics are present in the planet’s boundary layer, at least in the areas explored, but how far these particles can travel depends at least in part on the altitude they rise to.
“The next logical question to be asked is how widespread is microplastic pollution in our atmosphere, has it reached the free troposphere?”
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