Environmentalists have found that there are a lot of microplastic particles in the air at the tops of the Pyrenees. That is, the winds carry such pollutants all over the Earth, scientists write in the scientific journal Nature Communications.
“We found a significant number of microplastics particles in the clean mountain air around the Pic du Midi observatory, built on the summit of the Midi de Bigorre mountain in the French Pyrenees. very long distances and heights, “the scientists write.
Over the past decades, scientists have discovered huge amounts of plastic debris and microplastics, not only in rivers and lakes, but also in many remote regions of the oceans, where giant “garbage spots” have arisen. In addition to this, particles of plastic debris have recently been found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench and at the summit of Mount Everest.
In a new study, ecologists led by Stephen Allen of the University of Strathclyde in the UK have uncovered new evidence that plastic has made its way into some of the most pristine corners of the earth in recent decades. Scientists came to this conclusion when studying air samples collected at the Pic du Midi mountain observatory, built on the slope of the Midi de Bigorre mountain at an altitude of 2,877 meters above sea level.
Plastic pollution of mountain air
A high level of air purity is critical for astronomical observations, which forces the observatory staff to regularly assess its quality. This was used by Allen and his colleagues, who were interested in whether microplastic is present in the high-mountain air of this region of the Pyrenees, which is isolated from air currents from the lowlands.
To answer this question, environmentalists analyzed air samples that employees of the Pic du Midi collected over the past four years. As it turned out, microscopic particles of plastic and synthetic fibers were present in all samples collected in the summer and autumn periods of time. On average, every 4-10 m3 of mountain air in the Pyrenees contained at least one particle of debris.
The relatively small particle sizes and wind patterns in the vicinity of the summit of Mount Midi de Bigorre, as noted by Allen and his colleagues, indicate that they were carried into the Pyrenees by high-altitude winds from a very long distance. Their source can equally be from other regions of Europe, as well as Africa and other continents of the Earth.
According to ecologists, their discovery indicates that high-altitude air currents can carry particles of plastic waste to virtually all corners of the Earth, including mountain landscapes inaccessible to humans. This also indicates that the interactions of winds and microplastic particles may be one of the main mechanisms for the transfer of dangerous toxins, bacteria and viruses from one region of the planet to another, the scientists concluded.