A group of scientists has confirmed that there are microplastics in the clouds that probably affect the climate, although it is not known how.
In a study published in Environmental Chemistry Letters, scientists climbed Mount Fuji and Mount Oyama to collect water from the mist that shrouds their peaks.
They then analyzed the samples to determine their physical and chemical properties.
The team identified nine types of polymers and one type of rubber in airborne microplastics, ranging in size from 7.1 to 94.6 micrometers.
Each liter of cloud water contains between 6.7 and 13.9 plastic particles.
“Hydrophilic” or water-loving polymers are abundant, suggesting that these particles play an important role in the rapid formation of clouds and therefore climate systems.
“If the issue of ‘plastic air pollution’ is not actively addressed, climate change and ecological risks will become a reality, causing irreversible and serious damage to the environment in the future,” he warned. a statement on Wednesday. at Waseda University.
When microplastics reach the upper layer of the atmosphere and are exposed to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, they degrade, contributing to the creation of greenhouse gases, Okochi added.
Microplastics are plastic particles smaller than 5 millimeters. They come from industrial waste, textiles, synthetic tires and personal care products, among others.
They are found inside fish in the deepest part of the ocean, in the sea ice of the Arctic and covered with snow in the mountains of the Pyrenees, between France and Spain.
But how these particles behave remains unknown.
“To our knowledge, this is the first report of microplastics suspended in cloud water,” the authors wrote in a paper.
Research shows that microplastics affect health, including heart, lung, and cancer, as well as cause damage to the environment.