Scientists have found that a secluded region in the Pyrenees mountains - previously considered pristine wilderness - is covered with airborne microplastics.
A team from Strathclyde and Toulouse universities spent five months in the area, which straddles France and Spain.
They estimate that each day an average of 365 tiny plastic fragments or fibres settled on every square metre of land.
The nearest major city - Toulouse - is about 75 miles away.
Researchers collected samples from what they considered to be an uncontaminated area in south west France, about four miles from the nearest village.
Samples from monitoring devices were analysed to identify whether the tiny plastic pieces, invisible to the naked eye and less than five millimetres long, were present in the mountain range.
It is not known the distance microplastics can travel, but the paper, published in the Nature Geoscience journal, suggests fragments are regularly travelling distances of nearly 60 miles.
Microplastic pollution spans the world, according to new studies showing contamination in the UK’s lake and rivers, in groundwater in the US and along the Yangtze river in China and the coast of Spain.
The deepest marine organisms known to humans are contaminated by plastics, according to a study published Wednesday. Researchers presented “the deepest record of microplastic ingestion, indicating it is highly likely there are no marine ecosystems left that are not impacted by plastic pollution,” according to the paper in Royal Society Open Science.
Humanity has created more than 9 billion tons of plastic since the 1950s, when large-scale production of the material first took off. Of that total, a staggering 76 percent has gone to waste. These days, plastics are found in most table salt, marine life and the deepest parts of the ocean. So it any surprise that they have made it into our bodies, too? A small study has detected microplastics in human excrement for the first time, raising larger questions about how the tiny particles can affect our health.
Plastic trash is littering the land and fouling rivers and oceans. But what we can see is only a small fraction of what’s out there. Since modern plastic was first mass-produced, 8 billion tons have been manufactured. And when it’s thrown away, it doesn’t just disappear. Much of it crumbles into small pieces.
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