Microplastics are now just about everywhere, according to new research: On land, in the sea and even in the air. Scientists in France reported this week that they found thousands of microplastic particles “raining down on a secluded spot in the Pyrenees (mountains), 75 miles from the nearest city,” according to an article in The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/18/science/what-are-microplastics.html ]
Microplastics are defined by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as plastic particles less than five millimeters long, but they can also be much smaller. Some fragments discovered in the Pyrenees study were 1/7 the width of a human hair, rendering them invisible to the unaided eye. This means invisible pollutants have spread by air far from their sources.
“We kind of expected to find plastics there, but we certainly were not prepared for the numbers we found,” said Deonie Allen, a lead researcher in the study, in an interview with The New York Times. “It was astounding: 11,400 pieces of microplastic per square meter per month, on average.”
Their study was published in the journal Nature Geoscience.