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Microplastics Found in the Rocky Mountains
According to the latest research, it is raining multi-coloured plastic in the Rocky Mountains. Recent research suggests that microplastics are found in even the most remote parts of our planet such as the Rocky Mountains and in the Arctic.
Researchers from the US Geological Survey found plastic shards, beads and fibres in more than 90% of rainwater samples taken from across Colorado, including from areas at more than 3,000 metres high in the Rocky Mountain National Park.
Using atmospheric simulations, they found plastic was carried through the air from at least 100 kilometres away. This proves that the wet deposition of plastic is everywhere, and not just in urban areas.
It’s Not Just in the Rockies
Earlier this year, another group of researchers found substantial amounts of plastic waste on a remote area of the French Pyrenees mountains. According to a study published in Nature Geoscience, they found 365 particles of microplastics in each square metre.
In June this year, another study, conducted by Greenpeace, found that British rivers are so polluted with plastic waste that almost all samples taken from thirteen different rivers contained microplastics. More than 80% of these polymers were Polyethylene, polystyrene and polypropylene, which are used to make products such as food packaging, milk and water bottles and carrier bags.
More recently, German and Swiss scientists discovered an extremely high concentration of plastic particles in samples of snow taken from the Batavian Alps.
Where is the Plastic Coming From?
Scientists from the US Geological Survey believe that microplastics found in the Rockies comes from rubbish dumped in the environment and plastic fibres released from synthetic clothes are a significant source.
It is estimated that there are now 5.2 trillion pieces of ocean plastic debris and this is expected to treble by 2025. This is all attributed to the growth in single-use plastics which has fuelled a surge in plastic pollution.
Approximately 40% of plastics are believed to enter the waste stream in the same year they are produced.
Microplastics are already considered a significant threat to marine life and are found in bodies of water all over the world.
However, these recent discoveries show that microplastics aren’t just affecting sea-life. The possibility that microplastics could be airborne in the same was as dust or pollen, could lead to significant health problems for the human race.
Plastic is now everywhere; it’s in the oceans, it’s in the rain, it’s in the snow, and it’s in the air. This is why there is an urgent need to reduce our plastic footprint and support those that are working towards a solution.