Microplastic causes harm to the environment, emission from roads and lakes

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Key Highlights 

  • Airborne microplastic appears in a variety of shapes and from a variety of origins.
  • The most critical element for moving plastic into the environment was highways and bridges.
  • 22,000 tons of microplastic a year if extrapolated across the entire United States.

Environment floating with microplastic

Microplastics in vast quantities are present in the atmosphere from roadways, lakes, and agricultural fields. Once there, it can be borne by the winds to the most distant locations on the planet. Airborne microplastic takes various types of dust particles and comes from many different sources. Discarded plastic waste is a major contributor. Since plastic biodegrades slowly, it simply separates into smaller parts that can be carried by air currents. A large portion of these fragments is derived from synthetic textile fibers.

Source of airborne plastics and process of emission in the atmosphere

According to the research of Brahney, an associate professor of watershed sciences at Utah State University. There is three-way to enter the atmosphere.

  •  Highways and roads-The most significant variable for moving plastic into the environment was highways and roads. This is because plastics are now almost everywhere, even on sidewalks. When a car drives along a track, it produces energy that can propel plastics into the atmosphere.
Highways and roads Microplastic

Related: Google maps protecting the environment, diverging to ‘eco-friendly’ routes

  • Ocean- The circulation of ocean waves is another source of microplastic in the environment. Since microplastics are less compact than water, they float on the sea. As the waves swirl and bubbles explode on the ocean’s floor, they have the potential to emit these tiny particles into the atmosphere. 
Ocean Microplastic
  • Agriculture– Agriculture was the third source of microplastic particles in the atmosphere. Two major sources of plastic in agricultural soils were found by the researchers. First, biosolids from wastewater treatment facilities. Contain large quantities of plastic, are used as fertilizer. Second, large quantities of plastic mulch have been used in agriculture. It has the potential to infiltrate soils. Such plastics degrade over time and end up being incorporated into the soil. We believe that cultivated fields would have much higher concentrations of microplastics than wildland soils. Then, when the fields are fallow or being tilled, there is the possibility for the dust to be generated.

Agriculture Microplastic

Microplastic polluting the air

Plastic particles will survive anywhere from a few hours to more than six days in the atmosphere. Long enough for plastics to cross continents and hit any corner of the globe. The researchers are unsure of the effect of microplastics in the environment at this time. The particles may affect atmospheric chemistry, like cloud forming, and therefore affect weather. They can also affect the balance of solar radiation that we need for heat and electricity. According to the research of Brahney 22,000 tons of microplastic, a year is across the entire United States. 

Also Read: Summer will last half a year! Other alarming effects of Climate Change



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