"If the issue of 'plastic air pollution' is not addressed proactively, climate change and ecological risks may become a reality, causing irreversible and serious environmental damage in the future," the study's lead author warned.
BRETT WILKINS Sep 29, 2023
They're in the world's water, air, food, and even in our blood—and now researchers in Japan have discovered microplastics in clouds, raising the specter of super-contaminating "plastic rainfall" and possibly affecting the Earth's climate.
Analyzing cloud water samples from high-altitude mountains in Japan including Mt. Fuji, researchers from Waseda University in Tokyo found nine different types of polymers and one type of rubber in the airborne microplastics (AMPs) they detected.
"Research shows that large amounts of microplastics are ingested or inhaled by humans and animals alike and have been detected in multiple organs such as lung, heart, blood, placenta, and feces," notes a summary of the study, which was originally published in the journal Environmental Chemistry Letters.
"Ten million tons of these plastic bits end up in the ocean, released with the ocean spray, and find their way into the atmosphere," the summary continues. "This implies that microplastics may have become an essential component of clouds, contaminating nearly everything we eat and drink via 'plastic rainfall.'"