According to RT, it appears that a lot of this plastic has been circulating through our ecosystems for a long time, which highlights the huge cleaning process that we got if we wanted to reverse the plastic tide.
Geologist Janice Barani, from Utah State University said, we found a lot of old plastic pollution everywhere we looked. It travels through the atmosphere and is deposited around the world, and this plastic is not new, it is what we have actually dumped into the environment over several decades from time.
Between December 2017 and January 2019, researchers collected 313 airborne microplastics samples from 11 different locations across the western United States, and found that 84% of the plastic particles came from road dust, 11% originated from sea spray, 5% from agricultural soil, and 0. .4% of the population.
In other words, this is plastic that has been strewn on the roads or dispersed from patches of garbage in the ocean.
The results were then connected to a computer model to try to figure out what a global pattern of atmospheric plastic might look like, and the team concluded that the time spent by the particles in the air could range from about an hour to about a week - sufficient time for the plastic to move across continents.
And the model showed that while the remote wilderness of Antarctica does not emit any microplastic airborne particles, it is very likely that it will import them - a similar story across the planet, and microplastics accumulate almost everywhere scientists search for them, including national parks, with The highest estimated concentrations over the oceans.
Natalie Mahwald, of Cornell University said, using our best estimates of plastic sources and model transport paths, most continents are net importers of microplastics from the marine environment.
While the modeling portion of the study uses some guesses and estimates to map airborne microplastics on a global scale, there is no doubt that these pollutants travel a lot in the wind.
To date, nearly 10 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced globally since the early twentieth century, and it is estimated that between 12 and 18% of it is not accounted for by landfill, recycling, or incineration.
The team behind this latest study is calling for more research into where all this plastic ends up, and how it can be distributed around the world - what impacts ecosystems, wildlife, the food chain, and ultimately our health.
Mahwald said, we did the modeling to find out the sources, and we didn't know what the sources were. It's amazing how much plastic is in the atmosphere at this level, and unfortunately, it accumulates in the oceans and on land and recycles it and moves everywhere, including places.