September 03, 2019
A team of the US Geological Survey (USGS, 1) working on nitrogen deposition by chance discovered microplastic particles in more than 90 % of their atmospheric wet deposition samples, taken along a transect in the Colorado Front Range as well as the Rocky Mountain National Park, US, for the purpose of nitrogen assessment.
The samples showed a variety of fibres and beads in a range of colours, most predominantly blue, having a concentration of up to 7.5 mg / L. In other words – it is now raining plastic!
These samples were taken near urban areas as well as in very remote places with an elevation of more than 3.000m up in the Rocky Mountains – however, there was no correlation of the amount of plastic and the distance to cities.
Even though a very young and not well-researched field in ecology, it can already be said that microplastic in the atmosphere is a regional and global, not a local problem.
- Wetherbee, G., Baldwin, A., Ranville, J. (2019) It is raining plastic. USGS Open file report 2019-1048 https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2019/1048/ofr20191048.pdf